It is Russia That is the Aggressor Here – UK official

Russian military aircraft fly during the exercises of the Russian Navy in the Mediterranean Sea, February 15, 2022 / Reuters / Photo credit: Russian Defence Ministry
Russian military aircraft fly during the exercises of the Russian Navy in the Mediterranean Sea, February 15, 2022 / Reuters / Photo credit: Russian Defence Ministry

Russia's refusal to participate in the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) talks means it is failing to live up to the international commitments Russia has made around transparency

Russia continues to sabotage any attempts of Ukraine to receive an explanation on the military build-up in Eastern Europe. Following Ukraine's appeal for an extraordinary meeting of Vienna Document participating states, Russia demonstratively refused to participate in any possible meetings of OSCE Permanent Council and Forum for Security Co-operation, according to the statement by the Spokesperson of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Maria Zakharova on February 15.

Responding to Russia’s failure to send a representative to an OSCE meeting about its military build-up, UK foreign secretary Liz Truss issued a statement as follows:

Read more: Russia Has 48 Hours to Explain its Military Activities – Ukrainian Foreign Minister

"Russia is patently failing to live up to the international commitments it has made around transparency.

If the Kremlin is serious about a diplomatic resolution, then it needs to show up to diplomatic meetings and commit to meaningful talks. Russia’s refusal to engage with the OSCE process demonstrates its contempt for the commitments it freely signed up to.

It is Russia that is the aggressor here. The troops stationed on the border are a clear threat to Ukraine. The UK and our allies urge the Kremlin to withdraw its troops and enter discussions based on the proposals put forward by NATO to improve transparency and reduce risk," she wrote on her Twitter page.

On Wednesday, February 16 the United States and NATO said Russia was continuing to build up troops around Ukraine despite Moscow's insistence it withdraws military forces, Reuters reports. The Russian defense ministry said its forces were pulling back after exercises in southern and western military districts near Ukraine – part of a huge Russian build-up that was accompanied by demands for sweeping security guarantees from the United States and NATO.

It published a video that it said showed tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and self-propelled artillery units leaving the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow seized from Ukraine in 2014.

Defense Express, Reuters, A freight train transporting Russian military vehicles from Crimea
A view shows a freight train transporting Russian military vehicles, which leave the Crimean peninsula towards the Russian mainland along a railway bridge across the Kerch Strait, in this still image taken from video released February 16, 2022 / Reuters / Photo credit: Russian Defense Ministry

But U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said key Russian units were moving towards the border, not away. "There's what Russia says. And then there's what Russia does. And we haven't seen any pullback of its forces," Blinken said in an interview on MSNBC. "We continue to see critical units moving toward the border, not away from the border."

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba noted, regarding the Russian misinformation:

"We in Ukraine have a rule: we don’t believe what we hear, we believe what we see. If a real withdrawal follows these statements, we will believe in the beginning of a real de-escalation."

As Defense Express reported, Ukraine has officially triggered the risk reduction mechanism provided by Part III of the Vienna Document, which ensures the right of any participating state to receive explicit information concerning any unusual and unscheduled activities of military forces outside their normal peacetime locations. Russia has signed the document among the other 56 states. After the initial request from the Ukrainian MoF for an explanation of the Russian military build-up, the appeal was rejected.

Russia said that its military drills featuring over 100,000 troops near the border of Ukraine and in temporarily occupied areas were "not unusual", hence, didn't need an explanation. Some 30,000 Russian troops in Belarus started their joint drills almost a week ago, while the total amount of forces and sustainment equipment continue to grow, so do the international tensions. Numerous countries warned Russia against the possible invasion of Ukraine. The Ukrainian army stands strong and even conducts its own military drills as a demonstration of unity and force against Russian aggression.

Read more: ​Ukraine’s Top Military Leaders: Armed Forces of Ukraine Absolutely Ready to Repel Aggressor