The US Says Russian Claim of Military Pullback is False

Photo credit: Russian Defense Ministry

The United States accused Russia of lying about pulling back military troops from its border with Ukraine and said that in reality, Moscow has added more than 7,000 troops in the past few days. 

A senior Biden administration official said that intelligence officials confirmed Russia has increased, not decreased, its military presence, even after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that military exercises had concluded and he would be pulling back troops to return to their barracks. 

Other Western allies are expressing similar doubts that Russia is actually pulling back from the brink of a military confrontation. 

In the UK, military officials said they spotted Russian armored vehicles, helicopters, and a field hospital making moves towards the border with Ukraine. 

British chief of defense intelligence Lt. Gen. Jim Hockenhull said in a statement that contrary to Russian claims, Putin is continuing to build up its military capabilities on the Ukrainian border. 

If Russia added 7,000 new troops, it would put the total number of Russian forces at more than 150,000. 

If Russia is increasing its military presence on the Ukrainian border rather than decreasing it, it means that Western hopes that Russia is veering toward a diplomatic solution may have been premature. 

But furthermore, it would also put the U.S. at direct odds once again with Russia. 

Analysts at the Pentagon are investigating satellite imagery and additional intelligence to see whether the Russian claim of a reduction in forces is false. Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley has been personally involved in planning for a wide range of potential Russian attack scenarios, meeting with analysts over details including the location and combat readiness of ground and naval units and the intentions of the forces. 

U.S. officials continue to issue warnings that the West should expect false reports from Russian state media over the coming days, including the potential for a false pretext for a military attack.

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