On Wednesday, US and NATO officials said they saw no sign of a Russian pullback from areas near Ukraine after the Russian Defense Ministry announced troops were starting to leave the region.
“There’s what Russia says and then there’s what Russia does. And we haven’t seen any pullback of its forces,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told MSNBC. “We continue to see critical units moving toward the border, not away from the border.”
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also said he hadn’t seen a Russian pullback from the region. In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded to Stoltenberg’s comments and said the NATO chief had assessed the situation incorrectly.
Peskov said NATO has a problem with its system for “evaluating ongoing events” if it does not see troops leaving the area. “NATO has a problem, and that problem is in its situation assessment system,” he said.
Russia’s Defense Ministry released a video it said showed military equipment crossing the Crimean bridge from Crimea into Russia as part of the pullback. But the US State Department dismissed the video as “propaganda.”
Meanwhile, other Russian officials mocked Western media for its predictions that Russia would invade Ukraine on February 16th. “I’d like to request US and British disinformation: Bloomberg, The New York Times and The Sun media outlets to publish the schedule for our upcoming invasions for the year. I’d like to plan my vacation,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Telegram.
Ukrainian officials also had harsh words for Western media over the invasion claims. David Arakhamia, the head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Servant of the People party, said the media “hysteria is now costing the country $2-3 billion every month.”
Arakhamia said outlets such as CNN, Bloomberg, and The Wall Street Journal were disseminating fake news. “We should study this because they are elements of hybrid warfare,” he said.