The Kremlin announced on Tuesday February 15 that it had begun the start of a planned military withdrawal. Since December 2021, Russia had massed more than 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders.
In the morning, the spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, Igor Konashenkov, announced that “units of the southern and western military districts” had “completed their tasks”. These units have begun to “make the change to the means of rail and road transport and will begin to return to their garrisons on Tuesday”.
The Kremlin has denounced Western “hysteria” over a supposed imminent invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Despite everything, the country demanded guarantees for its security from its neighbour, in particular a promise that the latter would never join NATO.
A promise rejected by the West, who offered in exchange talks on other subjects, such as arms control, reciprocal visits to sensitive infrastructure or discussions on Russian security fears.
Russia denies wanting a war
Russian President Vladimir Putin has assured that he does not want a war around Ukraine, after weeks of tensions fueled by a massive deployment of Russian troops. “Do we want a war or not? Of course not. This is why we have put forward our proposals for a negotiation process,” he declared during a press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Ukraine and the West welcome each other
Following a series of attempts at appeasement, marked by a long interview between Emmanuel Macron and Vladimir Putin, Ukraine and the West congratulated themselves on having succeeded in preventing “a Russian escalation”.
It must be said that the pressure had risen a notch recently. Some countries had decided to recall their nationals and to move their embassies.
On Monday evening, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky declared a “day of unity” on Wednesday February 16, in anticipation of a potential Russian attack.