March 24, 2023

nato: US says Russia has not pulled back, Ukraine invasion still on cards – Times of India

WASHINGTON: American and Nato leaders are saying there is no meaningful pullback of Russian forces from the Ukrainian border despite Moscow’s show of withdrawal as the two sides continued their war of words that has kept the world on edge for weeks now.
In a White House address on Tuesday, US President Joe Biden maintained that a Russian attack or invasion of Ukraine “is still very much a possibility” while offering a nuanced response to Moscow’s demands. The US and its allies are ready to engage in diplomacy with Russia “to improve stability and security in Europe as a whole,” but they will “respond decisively to a Russian attack on Ukraine,” and any attack on a Nato member country would result in war.
“The United States will defend every inch of Nato territory with the full force of American power. An attack against one Nato country is an attack against all of us,” Biden said in some of the toughest language he has employed during the face-off.
The US President did not respond specifically to Russia’s main demand — that Washington and its allies forswear roping Ukraine into Nato. Instead, he doubled down on “the right of countless countries to choose their own destiny, and the right of people to determine their own futures, for the principle that a country can’t change its neighbor’s borders by force,” making an immediate agreement a non-starter.
Other western officials too scoffed at Russia’s claims of a drawdown even both sides continued to project the other as an offensive warmonger.
“Unfortunately there’s a difference between what Russia says and what it does And what we’re seeing is no meaningful pullback. On the contrary, we continue to see forces — especially forces that would be in the vanguard of any renewed aggression against Ukraine — continuing to be at the border, to mass at the border,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a TV interview, assertions that were backed by Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
President Biden in fact bumped up to 150,000 the number of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border, who he said “remain very much in a threatening position.”
Biden’s tough stand won glowing reviews from the liberal media at home, with New York Times columnist Tom Friedman crediting the US President with making Putin blink.
“If Vladimir Putin opts to back away from invading Ukraine, even temporarily, it’s because Joe Biden… has matched every Putin chess move with an effective counter of his own… it’s because Biden’s statecraft has given Putin pause,” Friedman wrote.
The principal weapons in the US pushback has been propaganda in the form of relentless intelligence leaks portraying Russia as an aggressor about to embark on an imminent invasion of Ukraine. While Moscow has scoffed at such projections, maintained it has never intended to invade Ukraine, and some of its units are returning to base on schedule after exercises, the partial withdrawal is being represented as result of a strong US stand and the unity Washington has forged with other Nato members.

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