US demands explanation as Russia begins new exercises near Ukraine
Moscow must move troops from frontier to their regular bases, Washington says
If Russia wants to make a deal on security guarantees, it should halt military exercises near the Ukrainian border or provide clarification and be transparent about troop movements, the US State Department has insisted.
Spokesman Ned Price’s comments, made on Tuesday, came just hours after Russia announced new drills in the Voronezh, Belgorod, Bryansk, and Smolensk regions, all of which are located on Russia’s western border.
“De-escalation in this context would call for Russian troops to return to their barracks, for these exercises to either be explained or to come to a halt, for this heavy weaponry to return to its regular storage locations,” Price told reporters.
On Monday, representatives from Russia and the US held talks in Geneva to discuss security proposals published by Moscow last month. The bilateral summit came as 100,000 Russian troops are said to have been relocated to the Ukrainian frontier, sparking fears that an invasion is planned in the near future. During the talks, the US demanded that Russia de-escalate by removing its forces from the border and relocating to regular bases.
On Monday, Russia’s Western Military District announced brand-new exercises at training ranges in European Russia, consisting of around 3,000 servicemen and 300 pieces of military equipment.
“The main focus of the tactical exercise will be to carry out check firing exercises with small arms and armored vehicles, to organize marches when sabotage and reconnaissance groups of the conventional enemy are active, and to equip strongholds,” the Western Military District said of the 2022 exercise.
On Tuesday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov accused Western media outlets of producing fake news, alleging that Moscow is planning a military operation in Ukraine.
“Certain maps are now being published – sometimes by The Wall Street Journal, sometimes by The New York Times. They are done professionally, but this disinformation – or misinformation, at best – is coming from special Western bodies and is aimed at sowing discord and uncertainty in the Ukrainian society,” he said.