Ukraine separatists announce plan to evacuate civilians

Washington’s ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has said Russia may have as many as 190,000 soldiers stationed in and around Ukraine’s borders amid warnings from the West that Moscow may be seeking to stage a “pretext” to attack its neighbour.

Michael Carpenter told an OSCE meeting on Friday that the United States had revised its estimation of the number of servicemen massed by Moscow upwards to between 169,000 and 190,000 from three weeks ago, when he said Washington believed the number of soldiers deployed to border areas and in the Moscow-annexed Crimean Peninsula stood at 100,000.

His remarks came as Ukrainian government forces and Russian-backed separatists in the country’s conflict-hit east traded fresh accusations of shelling and other ceasefire violations and Moscow announced Russian President Vladimir Putin would take part in major nuclear drills on Saturday.

Blinken says US seeing false provocations

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that everything Washington has seen happening on Russia’s border with Ukraine in the past 24 to 48 hours is part of a scenario of creating false provocations designed to elicit a response.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference alongside German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, Blinken also cast doubt on Russia’s claims it was pulling forces back from positions near its neighbour.

“On the contrary, we see additional forces going to the border including leading-edge forces that would be part of any aggression,” he said.

Germany

Baerbock pointed to Berlin being Ukraine’s biggest donor as an example of its support for Kyiv while she addressed the Munich Security Conference alongside Blinken, who agreed that Western powers were working in a complementary, coordinated way.

“This is our strength – we are standing all together but using our different roles of support, with our different histories,” Baerbock said.

cannot supply Ukraine weapons due to WW2 past, minister says

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has defended her country’s decision not to send weapons, saying its World War II past meant it had a duty to seek other ways to secure peace.

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