Ukraine: Kremlin claims victory over the west as Putin backs off troops
Russia has begun to pull back troops from the Ukrainian border in a major de-escalation of tensions, with the Kremlin claiming victory over the west in an apparent concession that there will be no invasion.
Russian media reported this morning that military units had been pulled back from the Ukrainian border, after a statement from the country’s defence department.
“Units of the Southern and Western military districts, having completed their tasks, have already begun loading onto rail and road transport and today they will begin moving to their military garrisons,” a defence department spokesperson said.
Kremlin spokespeople went on the attack against Nato after the announcement, with Putin aide Dmitry Peskov saying “we have always said that after the exercises are over … troops would return to their permanent bases” and that the west had tried to “provoke tensions”.
Russian foreign office spokesperson Maria Zakharova said: “February 15, 2022, will go down in history as the day when western war propaganda failed.
“They were humiliated and defeated without a single shot.”
The de-escalation has led to a resurgence in London markets, with the FTSE 250 index rising 0.64 per cent to 21,755.73 points.
It comes after there appeared to be a breakthrough last night as Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov claimed there was a “way forward” in the Ukrainian crisis during a heavily scripted one-on-one video appearance with Putin.
When asked about the prospects of a security agreement with the west, Lavrov said: “There’s always a chance.”
Commenting on a call between Boris Johnson and Joe Biden last night, a Downing Street spokesperson said: “They agreed there remained a crucial window for diplomacy and for Russia to step back from its threats towards Ukraine.”
German chancellor Olaf Scholz will today travel to Moscow to hold talks with Putin.
Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and Tory MP, Tom Tugendhat told Times Radio that Putin has shown he “can massively distract the entire western world” and if “his allies in Beijing … want to have a bit of quiet to do something for a while, then he can create the diversionary tactics to allow them to act”.
“He’s achieved his (diplomatic aims) by having us… turn up and either say things the Americans have already said in which case, his foreign minister mocks them, and makes them look silly, or by saying something different, in which case he highlights the difference and makes us look divided,” he said.