Federal Defense Minister Angret Kramp-Karenbauer The US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken made a similar statement. Russia withdrew some of its forces from the Ukrainian border. Blinkin said during his visit to Ukraine, which was already seen as a strong sign of US support for Kiev, that “substantial forces” were still stationed there and theoretically enabled Russia to “act aggressively” in a short period of time.
According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Silinsky, only 3,500 Russian soldiers left the Crimea peninsula in the Black Sea, which Russia annexed in 2014. Elsewhere, no decrease in troop strength can be observed. “So the danger remains,” he said in the meeting with Blinken. According to Western military experts, about 28,000 Russian soldiers are permanently stationed in the Crimea.
After a large deployment of Russian forces along the border with Ukraine, there have been international concerns recently that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine could escalate again. Moscow announced the deployment of its forces through military exercises. About two weeks ago it was announced that the soldiers in question would return to their traditional military bases.
Federal Defense Minister Angret Kramp-Karenbauer (CDU) said she has a clear impression that the Russian side’s strategy is to “keep trying to provoke”. Ukraine, as well as NATO and Europe, are well advised not to take part in this game. In the next few weeks it will become clear whether recent developments are a “false relaxation” or whether Russia will escalate again.
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Blinkin assured Kiev of more help: “We are working with our partners to ensure Ukraine can defend itself,” said the chief US diplomat. But he also called for more reforms. Kiev must fight corruption and reform the judicial system.
Since Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the subsequent support of the pro-Kremlin rebels in the Donbas, Kiev has seen its existence threatened by neighboring Russia. According to United Nations estimates, more than 13,000 people have been killed in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. A peace plan agreed in 2015 with the participation of Germany and France has been put on hold.
Despite the current ceasefire, around 60 people have been killed in the conflict area since the start of the year alone. Only on Thursday did the military again report the killing and wounding of a soldier. Luhansk separatists also spoke of a dead person in their ranks the night before.