As well as partially withdrawing its troops from Ukraine, Russia held war games in occupied Crimea on Wednesday. But in an address from the White House, President Joe Biden said more than 150,000 Russian troops still encircle Ukraine. The US claims that the supposed pullback has not happened.
Earlier , diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv were relocated amid fears that an attack could be in the near future. China, meanwhile, has resisted similar moves and hasn’t publicly criticised Moscow’s action. It has faced criticism from the Pentagon for its perceived “tacit support” of Russian military coercion against Ukraine.
“For days, the U.S. has been playing up the threat of war and creating an air of tension,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told a regular press conference in Beijing. “This has gravely impacted the economy, social stability and people’s lives in Ukraine, and obstructed dialogue and negotiations between the concerned parties.“
Following Moscow’s announcement that certain forces would be pulling back near Ukraine on Tuesday, it similarly accused the United States of a failed propaganda campaign, calling it “information terrorism.”
Governments in the West have become less concerned about a Russian invasion of Ukraine, but fears have not disappeared.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, some military units taking part in military exercises will begin returning to their bases, a move welcomed as a “good signal” by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. In 2014, Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine, and released footage of a trainload of armored vehicles leaving Crimea recently. During the movement, the ministry said forces returned to their permanent bases
Beijing may have believed – or even known – that a full-scale invasion is not imminent or even likely in the coming days, as Wang repeated the phrase at his press conference.
“It is exactly this persistent hyping and dissemination of disinformation by some in the West that has added more turbulence and uncertainty to a world already fraught with challenges, and intensified distrust and division,” said Wang.
“We hope relevant parties can stop such disinformation campaigns and do more to benefit peace, mutual trust and cooperation.”
Efforts to avert war gained new momentum this week after Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was open to discussing security issues with NATO, and Russia withdrew some of its troops gathered near Ukraine’s borders.
The United States and its allies have welcomed the diplomatic overtures, but have seen little sign of de-escalation by the Russian military.
Western governments have asked Beijing to use its good relations with Moscow to dissuade President Vladimir Putin from embarking on a military adventure that could greatly destabilize the world economy.
“China and Russia have always worked to develop long-term good-neighborliness and a mutually beneficial cooperative relationship on the basis of non-alliance, non-confrontation and non-targeting of third countries,” said Wang, a day after China’s state broadcaster CCTV ran an overwhelmingly positive report.
In its prime-time news bulletin Xinwen Lianbo on Tuesday, CCTV highlighted the Kremlin’s readiness to continue security talks with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s insistence that Moscow will not go to war with Ukraine; Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s displeasure with the withdrawal of Western diplomats from Kiev; and the resumption of talks between the defense ministers of Ukraine and Belarus to ease tensions
NATO defense ministers met in Brussels Wednesday to discuss deterring an invasion – which Russia says it has no intention of starting.
Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said: “We have heard the signs from Moscow about readiness to continue diplomatic efforts. But so far, we have not seen any de-escalation on the ground. On the contrary, it appears that Russia continues the military build-up.“
The alliance is “prepared for the worst, and if Russia once again invades Ukraine, they will pay a high price,” Stoltenberg said.
“But we really hope that Russia will engage in meaningful dialogue and choose diplomacy instead of confrontation. We are ready to sit down and find a political solution.“