As Russian officials continued to attack Biden administration comments that an invasion of Ukraine is imminent, some Russian troops conducting maneuvers pulled back from the Ukraine border, according to reports.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the planned end of the maneuvers will provoke rounds of chest-thumping in the Biden White House, according to The New York Times.
President Joe Biden had promised that the mother of all economic sanctions would be levied on Russia if it invaded Ukraine, a potential punishment that Russia derided.
“The West, if it hasn’t already, will say: ‘See, as soon as we pressured them and Biden snapped, they immediately got scared and fulfilled our demands,’” Lavrov said at a news conference in Moscow, according to the Times.
“This is selling air — our Western colleagues have become rather successful at it,” he said.
Separately, according to The Washington Post, Putin government spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the fact that Western nations pulled diplomats out of Ukraine was “ostentatious hysteria that is not based on anything.”
“The whole world is in a fever over this. And, indeed, this is nothing but an absolutely unprecedented campaign to provoke and escalate tension in Europe. We consider this an absolutely harmful, very bad practice,” he said, according to the Post.
“If it had not been for this hysteria, these demonstrative destructive information campaigns, the atmosphere in Europe would have been quite different.
The tactical situation on the ground was unclear.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Igor Konashenkov said military units participating in drills in what he termed the southern and western districts had completed their missions and were returning to bases that are not far from the Ukraine border.
Military exercises in Belarus, on Ukraine’s northern border, and in the Black Sea, were continuing, a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said, according to the Times.
NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said alliance members “have not seen any sign of de-escalation,” but said Russian comments favoring diplomacy were “grounds for cautious optimism,” the Times reported.
British Defense Secretary Liz Truss, however, continued to talk tough.
“This is … about the wider stability of Europe,” she said, according to the U.K. Daily Mail. “And it’s about wider global stability, and the message that we give to aggressors and we have to give the message to Vladimir Putin that there can be no reward for aggression.”
As to any withdrawal, “we will need to see a full-scale removal of troops to show that is true,” she said.
The extent to which an invasion was imminent was grounds for debate last month. During a crisis drumbeat from Washington, Ukraine was marching to a different tune, according to The Hill.
Ukraine Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said late last month that while there was grave potential in the Russian troops at his nation’s border, the moment of panic had not arrived.
“There are risky scenarios. They’re possible and probable in the future,” Reznikov said. “But as of today … such a threat doesn’t exist.”
The potential invasion brought German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to call on Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, the Times reported. French President Emmanuel Macron last week visited Moscow last week.
Russian officials have scoffed at the Western claims of an imminent attack.
Kremlin foreign affairs adviser Yuri Ushakov on Saturday said talk of war had “reached the point of absurdity,” according to The Associated Press, and mocked Western leaders for what he called “hysteria.”
“We don’t understand why they are spreading clearly false information about Russian intentions,” Ushakov said about the U.S. warnings of an imminent attack.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.