Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Parallel to ongoing talks – Russia is holding tank maneuvers near Ukraine and Belarus

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In the Ukraine conflict, the fronts between Russia and the United States have hardened. Instead of withdrawing troops from the Ukraine border, the Kremlin is causing more soldiers to show up. An important meeting is yet to come.

In parallel with the talks on security in Eastern Europe, Russia has started tank maneuvers near Ukraine and Belarus. About 3,000 soldiers are involved in the exercises in the Voronezh, Belgorod and Bryansk regions near Ukraine and in Smolensk near Belarus, the Interfax news agency reported on Tuesday, citing the Russian military. Previously, the spokesman for the presidential office in Moscow, Dmitri Peskov, was not very optimistic about the course of the first talks on Monday.

The background to the tensions in the region is, among other things, the deployment of almost 100,000 Russian soldiers on the Ukrainian border. The USA and several European countries are warning of an invasion of Ukraine. The government in Moscow denies invasion plans.

While the US is calling for Russian troops to be withdrawn from the border, Russia insists that NATO undertake not to include Ukraine in the military alliance and not to expand further east.

A meeting of the NATO-Russia Council is planned for Wednesday – the first in two and a half years. Thereafter there will be talks in Vienna on Thursday within the framework of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

The USA has so far seen no efforts to ease the tension through Moscow before the NATO consultations with Russia. Russia continues to have around 100,000 soldiers on the border with Ukraine, said the US ambassador to NATO, Julianne Smith, on Tuesday the US broadcaster CNN. “We think they have plans to move more troops forward.” There are currently no “clear signals of de-escalation” from Russia.

Representatives of the USA and Russia met for bilateral talks in Geneva on Monday. In the Ukraine crisis, however, there was no convergence.

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