Russia said Wednesday it was returning more troops and weapons to bases, but NATO declared it saw no sign of a drawdown as fears that Moscow could invade Ukraine soon persisted.
Russia has massed about 150,000 troops east, north and south of Ukraine, sparking Western concerns it was planning an attack. Moscow denies it has any such plans and this week said it was pulling back some forces and weapons, though it gave few details. Those claims have been met with skepticism from the U.S. and its allies — even as they seemed to lower the temperature following weeks of escalating East-West tensions.
On Wednesday, the Russian Defense Ministry released a video showing a trainload of armored vehicles moving across a bridge away from Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014. A day earlier, the ministry reported the start of a pullback of troops following military exercises near Ukraine.
But NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says the military organization does not see any sign that Moscow is decreasing its troop levels in and around Ukraine.
“At the moment, we have not seen any withdrawal of Russian forces,” he said, before chairing a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels.
“If they really start to withdraw forces, that’s something we will welcome but that remains to be seen.”