NATO intends to strengthen eastern flank over alleged Russian "threat"
This step comes as NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg claimed that Russia has not withdrawn its forces from the borders with Ukraine.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday the alliance is looking to step up efforts to strengthen its eastern flank, as he alleged that threat from Russia had become the "new normal in Europe."
"Today, ministers decided to develop options to further strengthen NATO's deterrence and defense, including to consider establishing new NATO battle groups in central and south-eastern Europe," Stoltenberg said.
He added that "NATO military commanders will now work on the details and report back within weeks."
Stoltenberg claimed that satellite images confirm that Russia has not withdrawn its forces from the borders with Ukraine.
"So far we do not see any sign of de-escalation on the ground; no withdrawals of troops or equipment," he said
Blinken: No "meaningful pullback" of Russian troops
For his part, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told ABC's "Good Morning America" that his country did not witness a "meaningful pullback" of Russian troops from the border with Ukraine.
"We continue to see forces, especially forces that would be in the vanguard of any renewed aggression against Ukraine," Blinken claimed.
In addition, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Russian troops are still deployed on the Ukrainian border, and that what it announced about withdrawing some of these forces is information that still needs to be "verified".
Zakharova mocks Western media
Mocking Western media reports over an alleged Russian "invasion" of Ukraine, Russia's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova asked US and UK media outlets to provide a schedule of Russia's "upcoming invasions".
“I’d like to request US and British disinformation: Bloomberg, The New York Times and The Sun media outlets to publish the schedule for our upcoming invasions for the year. I’d like to plan my vacation,” Zakharova said Wednesday on her Telegram channel.
On its part, Belarus confirmed that all Russian soldiers present on its territory as part of large-scale military exercises in Crimea will leave the country, with the expected completion of these exercises on February 20.
It is noteworthy that Russia denies having any hostile intention towards Ukraine, but requires a set of demands to stop the escalation, including ensuring that Kyiv does not join NATO, a condition rejected by the West.