The US does not see any “meaningful pullback” of Russian troops from Ukraine’s borders, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday.
The top diplomat told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that the situation near Ukraine is “deeply, deeply concerning” and Russian President Vladimir Putin is the only decision-maker who can de-escalate the crisis.
When asked if the US sees any evidence that Russian troops are being pulled back in a significant way, Blinken replied: “We’re not.”
“And unfortunately, there’s a difference between what Russia says and what it does. And what we’re seeing is no meaningful pullback,” said the top diplomat.
“On the contrary, we continue to see forces, especially forces in the vanguard of any renewed aggression against Ukraine, continuing to be at the border, to mass at the border,” Blinken added.
He also warned that Putin has a capacity to “act on very short notice,” adding: “He can pull the trigger — he could pull it today. He could pull it tomorrow. He could pull it next week. The forces are there if he wants to renew aggression against Ukraine.”
On Tuesday, Russian defense officials reported that some military units are leaving their positions near Ukraine.
US President Joe Biden also said Tuesday that Washington has not yet verified that the troops are returning to their home bases.
Meanwhile, the Russian lower chamber of parliament, the State Duma, voted Tuesday for the recognition of Ukraine’s breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states.
In a statement Wednesday, Blinken said the move will undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and constitute a violation of international law.
“To be clear: Kremlin approval of this appeal would amount to the Russian government’s wholesale rejection of its commitments under the Minsk agreements,” added Blinken.
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