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Germany, US Reportedly at Odds Over Imaginary Threat of Russia ‘Invading’ Ukraine

© Sputnik / Игорь Самойлов / Go to the mediabankServicemember of the 76th Guards Airborne Assault Division during exercises (file).
Servicemember of the 76th Guards Airborne Assault Division during exercises (file). - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.12.2021
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US and European officials and media have spent months claiming that Russia has concentrated tens of thousands of crack troops on its border with Ukraine in preparation for an invasion. Moscow has dismissed the “absurd” claims, accusing the West of spreading fake news to stoke tensions.
German officials are more doubtful of the actual prospects of a Russian attack on Ukraine than their US counterparts, and Berlin is interested in deescalating tensions in the region, two German government sources have told Reuters.
One source said senior German and Russian officials will hold negotiations in January in an effort to ease tensions over Ukraine, with Jens Ploetner, a foreign policy advisor to Chancellor Olaf Scholz, agreeing to meet with Dmitri Kozak, deputy Kremlin chief of staff and acting Ukraine negotiator, following a long telephone conversation Thursday.
“The German side’s goal remains to achieve a swift reactivation of the Normandy format,” Reuters’ German government source said, referring to the contact group of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France that has been meeting continuously since June 2014 in an effort to end the civil war in eastern Ukraine.
The Normandy Four successfully negotiated the Minsk peace deal in February 2015, which put a freeze on the hot phase of the conflict, but Kiev's intransigence in heeding its political recommendations, which required the provision of broad autonomy to the breakaway Donbass republics, turned the war into a frozen conflict punctuated by regular violations of the ceasefire.
The Donbass war began in the spring of 2014 in the aftermath of a Western-backed coup in Kiev in February of that year. The conflict has claimed the lives of up to 31,000 people, with over 2.5 million residents forced to flee their homes, close to one million of them to Russia.
Russian Troop Movements
The Reuters report follows an announcement by the Russian military Saturday that over 10,000 troops in Russia’s southern military district (which includes Crimea and the eastern border with Ukraine) had completed training and returned to their permanent deployment areas after exercises in Astrakhan, Volgograd, Rostov, Crimea, Stavropol, Krasnodar, the Northern Caucasus, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Armenia.

Some Western media painted the Russian military’s report as an indication that Moscow had “pulled back” some of the troops concentrated along the “Ukraine border area”, despite the fact that many of the place names mentioned are up to 700 km from the Russia-Ukraine border, or about the distance between London and Inverness, or Washington, DC and Charleston, South Carolina.

The New York Times - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.12.2021
About 59,000 New York Times Readers Fail to Locate Ukraine on Map
US and European officials and media have released a variety of estimates on just how many troops Russia has concentrated on the border with its western neighbour, with figures ranging from 70,000 to 100,000 or even 200,000 troops – or roughly the size of Ukraine’s entire armed forces. The Western press has remained skimpy on the details of Russia’s alleged plans to invade Ukraine, however, apart from an amorphous map drawn by a German tabloid featuring icons of Russian tanks and arrows indicating where they would be sent in the event of an attack, plus satellite photos of Russian armour stationed in Smolensk region – about 800 km northwest of east Ukraine.
Russian officials have dismissed Western concerns about its troops movements, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying Friday that it wasn’t anyone’s business what Russia does with its military on its own territory.
“Russia is moving its own troops around on its own territory against the backdrop of highly unfriendly actions by…NATO, the United States and various European countries who are carrying out highly unambiguous manoeuvres near our borders,” Peskov said. “This forces us to take certain measures to guarantee our own security.”
At his annual year-end press conference Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin blasted the US and its allies for hyping up the threat of “Russian aggression” while pushing ever-closer to the country’s frontiers.
“We remember…how you promised us in the 1990s that [NATO] would not move an inch to the East. You cheated us shamelessly: there have been five waves of NATO expansion, and now the weapons systems I mentioned have been deployed and deployment has recently begun in Poland…We are not threatening anyone. Have we approached US borders? Or the borders of Britain or any other country? It is you who have come to our border, and now you say that Ukraine will become a member of NATO as well. Or, even if it does not join, that military bases and strike systems will be placed on its territory under bilateral agreements. This is the point,” Putin said.
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German Lawmaker Reveals How NATO Fooled Gorbachev About Bloc’s Eastward Expansion Plans
The Russian Foreign Ministry submitted a pair of security proposals to the US and NATO earlier this month outlining how tensions between Russia and the Western bloc could be permanently squashed. Among the proposals is a provision that NATO immediately halt any further eastward expansion, and cancel military cooperation with Ukraine and the former Soviet republics of the Caucasus and Central Asia. US officials have signalled their readiness to discuss the proposals in January.
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