Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba expressed doubts over a Russian statement that some units that had been on military exercises near the country’s border would be returning to their bases.
Kuleba told a media briefing in Kyiv that “various statements are constantly being made from the Russian Federation, so we already have a rule: “Do not hear and then believe. But do see and then believe.»
When we see the withdrawal — then we will believe in de-escalation,” Kuleba said.
However, he welcomed the fact that diplomacy had successfully managed to deter further Russian attacks until now.
“Together with our partners, we have indeed managed to deter Russia from any further escalation. Today is mid-February. And you see that diplomacy continues to work,” Kuleba said.
Kuleba also spoke about moves in the Russian parliament to recognize the breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine as independent. Those regions call themselves the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics and have been controlled by pro-Russian separatists since 2014
“I would like to remind you once again of Ukraine’s unchanging position. If a decision on recognition is made, Russia will de facto and de jure withdraw from the Minsk agreements. With all the attendant consequences. We have already warned our partners about this position.”
The Minsk agreements are meant to find a pathway to settle the status of the breakaway regions.
Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the withdrawal of some Russian troops was a “normal process” after the completion of military exercises.
“We have always said that, after the completion of the exercises, after stages that must be completed within a certain period of time, the troops will return to their places of permanent deployment. This is what is happening this time as well. This is a normal process,” he said.
“Russia has conducted and will continue to conduct military exercises throughout the territory of the Russian Federation — this is an ongoing process, as in all countries of the world,” he added.
According to an earlier statement from the Russian Defense Ministry, military exercises will continue, involving troops from “almost all” Russian military districts.
Addressing members of the press on Tuesday, Peskov said Russia has the right to carry out such military exercises in its territory, adding that this is “non-negotiable.”