Signs of de-escalation as Russia claims to pull back some troops

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

On Tuesday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz met with the Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. The main agenda was the ongoing crisis near the Russian-Ukrainian border. On Monday, Scholz had visited Kiev, where he met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and showed support to Ukraine against the Russian position.

President Putin and Chancellor Scholz during the meeting in Moscow on Tuesday.
Image: The Kremlin.

After Tuesday's meeting, a joint press conference was held, in which Scholz said, "it is our absolute duty as heads of government that Europe does not see an escalation into war." When asked about the deployments and the threat of war, Putin said Russia does "not want war in Europe." He later added Russia is "ready to work further together" and "go down the negotiations track".

However, Putin called Russia's claims valid and described the situation in Ukraine's Donbas region as a 'genocide'. On Tuesday, the Russian Defence Ministry declared it had begun to pull back some of its troops and called the deployments a 'military drill'.

The German Chancellor said the withdrawal of some troops was a good sign. On the other hand, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said they wouldn't accept any claims by Russia until they see it themselves and added "if we see a withdrawal, we will believe in a de-escalation". NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed Russia's response of a diplomatic solution but said it had not seen 'any sign of de-escalation on the ground' yet.