Russia said Tuesday that it is pulling some troops back from the Ukraine border after a 4-month build-up to a 150,000+ invasion force.
Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu asserted that drills around Ukraine would end on Feb. 20, but that some troops would be returning sooner.
Russian sources also released video they say is of tanks being loaded for return from Belarus and Southwestern Russia, but internet sleuths have determined that it is instead from Bakhchisaraj in southeast Crimea and is likely headed closer to the current Ukraine border, not away.
Further adding doubt of a withdrawal, NATO’s leadership says they haven’t seen any proof of a pull-back.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has not accomplished anything with this massive build-up if he pulls back now. While the international community would support him doing so, it is at odds with typical Putin strategy.
The Russian president has put 150,000+ troops and numerous air and naval assets into the area with the sole demand that Ukraine would never become part of NATO. He has received no such assurances and Ukraine President Zelenskiy appears stronger having stood up to Russia and having Putin blink.
As of 3:00 p.m. in Ukraine (8 a.m. ET), there is no evidence that Putin is pulling back.
NOTE: This is a breaking story and will be updated as events warrant.
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