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Russo-Ukraine War - 2022 February

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French President Emmanuel Macron held separate talks with the Russian and Ukrainian leaders on 03 February 2022 to try to make progress on the status of the Donbass region as part of efforts to defuse tensions. Putin "again drew attention to the provocative statements and actions of the Kyiv leadership".

The US moved 3,000 troops to send message to Putin. This included 2,000 troops moving from the US to Germany and Poland and 1,000 troops moving from Germany to Romania. This is a pretty small amount both compared to the number of American soldiers that are in Europe on any given day and compared to the more than 100,000 troops that Russia has amassed at Ukraine's border.

US intelligence officials believe Russia has formed a plan to fabricate a pretext for an invasion of Ukraine, potentially by producing propaganda videos showing a staged attack, a senior Biden administration official told reporters. Russia is formulating several options to give it an excuse for an invasion of Ukraine, the official said. One is a fabricated video showing the graphic aftermath of an explosion, including equipment appearing to belong to Ukraine or allied nations, according to the official, who requested anonymity.

"The video will be released to underscore a threat to Russia's security and to underpin military operations," said the official, adding that Washington is publicizing the specific allegation in order to "dissuade" Russia from following through with such plans. US Deputy National Security Advisor Jonathan Finer elaborated on the allegations in a separate interview, this one with MSNBC: "We don't know definitively that this is the route they (Russia) are going to take, but we know that this is an option under consideration," Finer told the US broadcaster. It "would involve actors playing mourners for people who are killed in an event that they (Russia) would have created themselves... (and) deployment of corpses to represent bodies purportedly killed," he added.

Senator Ted Cruz accused US President Joe Biden of being the real reason for the escalation of tensions between the West and Russia, arguing that his leadership has helped worsen the situation across the shared border with Ukraine. Speaking in the Senate on 03 February 2022, Cruz hinted that the high levels of tension around Eastern Europe are due to the new “occupant of the Oval Office,” and questioned why there was no threat of a Russian invasion in the years prior. Cruz went on to accuse Biden of showing“weakness and appeasement almost immediately after he put his hand on the Bible,” arguing the President had been underperforming since his inauguration.

On 04 February 2022 Russia won China’s backing in its showdown with the West over Ukraine as Beijing agreed with Moscow the US-led NATO military alliance should not admit new members. The demand for NATO to stop expanding came after a meeting between President Vladimir Putin and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing, in which the Russian leader hailed the two countries’ “dignified relationship”. In a long strategy document, Moscow and Beijing hit out at what they said was Washington’s destabilising role in global security. “The parties oppose the further expansion of NATO and call on the North Atlantic Alliance to abandon the ideological approaches of the Cold War era,” the document said, urging respect for the “sovereignty, security and interests of other countries”.

Washington and London have cooked up the threat of Russia ‘invading Ukraine’ for the sake of a "heroic fight" in order to carry out a provocation and then declare victory, which is a way to distract their public from their own domestic crises and restore the "undefeatable" image following the Afghan flop, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote 07 February 2022. "The well-known psychedelic phobias by Western media about the ‘Russian aggression against Ukraine’ are under development in the forthcoming composition. However, time marches on and Russia is not attacking Ukraine. The calculation by the US who ordered this ‘tune’ and the British who joined the bandwagon is clear; they cooked up ‘the Russian threat’ themselves, they braced themselves for a ‘heroic fight’ against it, in order to commit a provocation and loudly declare their ‘victory’," the spokeswoman noted.

French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Moscow on 07 February 2022 to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in order to discuss Russia-EU and Russia-NATO relations amid the crisis in Ukraine. During the meeting, Putin expressed regret that the responses of the US and NATO to Russia's security proposals are secondary and do not address fundamental issues. Putin said some of the ideas he and Macron discussed could form "the basis for future common steps."

A French official, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity, said overnight that Putin had promised to hold no new maneuvers near Ukraine for now. The official also said Putin had promised to withdraw Russian troops from Belarus at the end of exercises there, which are set for later this month.

On 08 February 2022 the Kremlin poured cold water on a tentative French assertion of diplomatic progress, denying that Putin had promised French President Emmanuel Macron that Russia would stage no further maneuvers near Ukraine for now. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said reports of any undertaking not to hold maneuvers near Ukraine were "not right". Putin had also given no new promise about when Russian troops would leave Belarus, Peskov said. Macron stated that his meeting with Putin helped to avoid escalation over Ukraine, adding, however, that he never thought "for one second" that the Russian president was "prepared to make any gestures" on the issue. Moscow has repeatedly said that the "Russian invasion craze" is artificially hyped up in media to create a pretext for the deployment of NATO forces near the Russian border, and noted that Kiev is in fact planning a provocation against Russian forces.

"As far as we are concerned, we will do everything to find compromises that suit everyone," Putin said, adding that there would be "no winners" if war breaks out on the European continent. The Russian leader also stressed that NATO and the United States had ignored Moscow's demand of security guarantees including NATO's non-expansion and would press them for a firm commitment. "I don't think that our dialogue is over," he said, adding that Russia would soon send a response to NATO and Washington.

Europe faced its most serious security threat since the Cold War, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell warned 08 February 2022. “We are living, to my understanding, the most dangerous moment for security in Europe after the end of the Cold War,” Borrell told a joint news conference in Washington with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “Nobody masses 140,000 soldiers heavily armed in the border of a country” without it representing “a strong threat", he said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that Russia's military buildup near Ukraine, which the West suspects is a prelude to an invasion, has triggered Europe's most serious security crisis in decades, as Moscow began holding joint military exercises in Belarus involving more than 30,000 troops. Johnson spoke in Brussels at a joint news conference with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg on 10 February 2022. "This is probably the most dangerous moment, I would say, in the course of the next few days, in what is the biggest security crisis that Europe has faced for decades, and we've got to get it right. And I think that the combination of sanctions and military resolve, plus diplomacy are what is in order."

Ukraine Ambassador to Germany Andriy Melnyk said 11 February 2022 Kyiv expects Germany to set a course for Ukraine to have a chance of immediately joining the EU. Ambassador Melnyk also insisted that NATO membership for Ukraine should also remain on the table.

The US military announced plans to reposition a squadron of F-16 warplanes into Romania from Germany "to reinforce regional security." The planes will be stationed at the Fetesti air base less than 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the Black Sea, joining Italian warplanes already there. The US is also sending an additional 3,000 troops to Poland to bolster NATO forces stationed there. Germany sent six advanced artillery systems to Lithuania to strengthen the existing German-led NATO enhanced forward presence battalion there. Germany announced it was beefing up its presence in the Baltic state with an additional 350 soldiers.

Russia made a decision to "optimize" the staff of its diplomatic missions in Ukraine amid possible provocations from the Kiev regime or third countries, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement released on 12 February 2022. "In this situation, in the wake of possible provocations by the Kiev regime or third countries, we have, indeed, made a decision on some optimization of the staff of Russian overseas missions in Ukraine. We want to highlight that our embassy and consulates will keep performing their basic functions," the statement said. "Considering the substantial influence that Washington and London have on Kiev and, generally, their role in governing the processes in Ukraine - let us just mention the efforts of beefing it up with weapons and instructors - we can make a conclusion that our American and British colleagues, apparently, know about some violent acts being prepared in Ukraine that can considerably complicate the security situation," Zakharova stressed.

The West and Kiev had recently been "spreading allegations" about Russia’s potential ‘invasion’ of Ukraine. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov castigated these claims as "empty and unfounded," serving as a ploy to escalate tensions, pointing out that Russia did not pose any threat whatsoever to anyone. However, Peskov did not rule out the possibility of provocations aimed at justifying such allegations and warned that attempts to use military force to resolve the crisis in southeastern Ukraine would have very serious consequences.

Zelenskiy said US messaging was unhelpful: "I think there's too much out there about a full-scale war from Russia, and people are even naming dates. The best friend for our enemies is panic in our country, and all this information only creates panic, it doesn't help us."

According to Ukrainska Pravda news outlet, over 20 private jets left Kyiv on Feb. 13. Over the past two weeks, planes owned by oligarchs Rinat Akhmetov, Victor Pinchuk, businessmen Vadym Novinsky, Vadym Stolar, and Vasyl Khmelnytsky left the country. At least 23 lawmakers left Ukraine, many recently. Ukrainska Pravda published the names and dates of departure of the lawmakers, citing their sources. Twelve are from pro-Russian Opposition Platform. Ukrainian media imply that the lawmakers fled abroad due to the threat of Russian invasion.

Flights entering or taking off from Ukrainian airspace will no longer be insured by international insurance companies, forcing flights to be grounded or cancelled. Dutch airline KLM and Ukrainian airline SkyUp had already begun to divert or cancel flights. The revocation of insurance policies would likely mean that no Ukrainian airlines, who lease almost all of their planes, will be able to fly above Ukraine.

Most of the world was aghast when Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his military to attack its neighbor on 24 February. The new professional Russian army was expected to make sweeping advances, its reputation for effectiveness not yet earned but assumed. Ukraine surprised the world by bringing Russia’s invasion to a standstill. Ukrainian resistance was much stronger than anticipated and Russian armored columns were not only halted but in many cases destroyed as Ukraine leveraged what weapons it had to the greatest effect, its commitment to defend itself with great energy, surprising Russia and the world. Since then, Ukraine has seen a flood of arms as weapons pour in from Europe and the United States. The EU’s collective defence policy was galvanised by the Ukrainian conflict. Several results emerged: the EU was soon acting more like a bloc rather than a disparate collection of loosely affiliated countries. Europeans woke up to the fact that Russia had no compunction about using overt military force to achieve its foreign policy goals.

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Page last modified: 18-04-2022 20:47:11 ZULU