News / Europe

US, NATO Raise Doubts Russia Pulled Back from Ukraine Border

FILE - Russian military vehicles and army tents are seen in a field outside the village of Severny in Belgorod region near the Russian-Ukrainian border, April 25, 2014.
FILE - Russian military vehicles and army tents are seen in a field outside the village of Severny in Belgorod region near the Russian-Ukrainian border, April 25, 2014.
The United States and NATO say, so far, there are no indications some 40,000 Russian forces are pulling back from the border with Ukraine, despite claims by the Russian president.

Speaking to reporters in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he had urged pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine to postpone a referendum on secession set for Sunday. He also insisted that Russian military forces had been withdrawn from the Ukranian border.

Aboard Air Force One, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters a Russian pullback would be a positive step.

“We would certainly welcome a meaningful and transparent withdrawal of Russian military forces from the border," he said. "That's something that we have sought for quite some time.”

But Earnest says there’s no evidence to back up Russia’s claims.

Pentagon Spokesman, Colonel Steve Warren says, “I can tell you we have seen no change in the Russian force posture along the Ukrainian border.”

Warren says if Russian troops were on the move, the U.S. would know.

While some express hope, U.S. lawmakers are skeptical as well, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Dan Coats, a Republican, telling VOA Putin's actions will speak louder than any words.

“If he [Putin] continues to encourage the pro-Russian chaos-makers in eastern Ukraine in order to disrupt or influence that election, pulling the troops back would just be a symbol of something that we shouldn’t take a whole lot of confidence that this is going to solve the problem,” he said.

Stephen Blank at the American Foreign Policy Council says Putin’s comments - especially those asking pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine to postpone an independence referendum that’s just days away - might be a sign Russia is starting to feel squeezed.

“Well, it’s a move to take the pressure off because if there’s another referendum, there will be more sanctions and these sanctions have begun to hurt,“ he said.

But Blank says Russia will continue to try to destabilize Ukraine:

“As long as Putin is president, they cannot accept a sovereign Ukraine that is inclined to the West," he said.

In the meantime, Ukraine’s border guard has already received U.S. shipments of non-lethal equipment while aid to the Ukrainian army is still in the works.

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters and is national security correspondent. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

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Comment Sorting
by: cheah from: penang
May 09, 2014 2:27 AM
How can you expect Russia to completely withdraw the troops massed on its border when USA and EU accomplice had broken the mutual trusts that existed before and broken by USA through its covert CIA interference in Ukraine that caused this crisis in the first place in the name of a false flag in the name of freedom ,human rights etc etc .
No one country can trust when USA (the champion of democracy) when in fact it does not respect that a democratically elected leader by the people decision to do what is good for his nation's interests.??.... just because the leader does things that is against US interest....IS this a champion of democracy or dictator of democracy...??
US people are peace-loving and do not want US dominated NWO but the ruling elites in the White house and military establishments wanted to implement the NWO agendas.
Anyone can disagree and said I am anti -USA but I respect your views so please respect mine too. This is freedom of speech too and expression of view

by: Wiktor Protsenko from: Kyiv
May 08, 2014 11:12 AM
In its unannounced war against Ukraine, Russia relies on covert operations which fall squarely within the definition of "international terrorism" under 18 U.S.C. § 2331. Specifically, armed operatives of Russia, acting under disguise, attempt to influence the policy of Ukrainian government by intimidation or coercion. They also try to affect the conduct of a government by assassinations and kidnapping, taking by force government buildings, police posts and military bases of Ukraine.

This activity is being conducted on large scale and over prolonged time period, despite condemnation by the USA, G-7, NATO, EU and UN. Please sign the petition urging the White House to officially designate Russia as "State sponsor of terrorism” - Such status of country would outlaw business of American companies with Russia. Even considering of the petition by Senate and President of USA creating great inconvenience Russian authorities.

by: meanbill from: USA
May 07, 2014 7:10 PM
"Know your enemy, and know yourself, and you can win a hundred battles without losing a single man" .. From "the Art of War" by Sun Tzu.. -- Putin read and studied the book to win Crimea and maybe a third of Ukraine, (and if the US and NATO read it), they must not have understood what they read?

The US and NATO won many battles with a great loss of men, in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, _ (BUT?) _ lost the Vietnam and Afghan war, and didn't win the Iraq war? -- (Just maybe, they could win a war by reading), "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu? --

The US and NATO arrogance in overestimating their forces strength, (and underestimating their enemies will to continue fighting), until the US and NATO forces give up, and go home?

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