Russia waits on Ukraine, NATO vigilantReading Time: < 1 minutes
Russian forces did not invade Ukraine today, confounding earlier US intelligence statements this was likely to happen on Wednesday. The Kremlin mocked Western media who had declared today the “invasion date”, France 24 reported.
Nevertheless US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed scepticism regarding the Russian Defence Ministry claim that it was pulling troops back from the area near its border with Ukraine following the completion of military exercises. Blinken told MSNBC that “critical units” were actually moving toward Ukraine, not away from it, adding “there’s what Russia says – and then there’s what Russia does”.
Blinken’s statement was backed up later on Wednesday when NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg cited satellite images that confirmed Russian troops had not retreated. Meeting with NATO defence ministers today in Brussels, he commented that “the intelligence we are sharing is actually confirmed also with open sources, with satellite imagery from commercial satellites.”
Meanwhile, Al Jazeera reported that the UK is sending troops and equipment to Estonia, doubling its forces there, and added that NATO commanders were today asked to formulate a deployment plan for battle groups in central and eastern and southeastern Europe. This will “further strengthen NATO’s deterrence and defence”, Stoltenberg said.
Slovakia lit up the Presidential Palace in Bratislava with the colours of the Ukrainian flag today, in a show of solidarity with its neighbour, which meanwhile held a “day of unity” symbolising Ukraine’s determination to stand up to aggression. “Symbols are important but it’s our unity & resolve to stand for democracy & freedom that makes us stronger,” Slovak President Zuzana Caputova tweeted.