BRUSSELS – The US and Nato have voiced wariness over Russia’s announcement that it pulled back troops from Ukraine’s border.
Reacting to the statement by Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Wednesday (7 May), US state department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told press in Washington: “We have not seen evidence of such movement to date … As you know, Russia made similar claims back in March and didn’t deliver on that promise at that time.”
She noted the US and the EU are continuing preparatory work on economic sanctions against Russia if the situation deteriorates.
Meanwhile, the White House the same day announced it is cancelling preferential tariffs on Russian imports under the so-called Generalised System of Preferences because “Russia is sufficiently advanced economically that it no longer warrants preferential treatment”.
Putin made his announcement after a meeting with Swiss President Didier Burkhalter in Moscow.
He said: “We have withdrawn our forces and they are now not on the Ukrainian border, but are carrying out their regular exercises at test grounds. This can be easily verified using modern intelligence techniques, including from space, where everything can be seen.”
Back in Brussels, top EU officials Herman Van Rompuy and Jose Manuel Barroso threatened further sanctions if Putin continues to destabilise Ukraine.
Speaking shortly before Putin’s announcement, Van Rompuy noted that Japan, whose PM, Shinzo Abe, was in the EU capital for trade talks, has also blacklisted 23 Russians and is ready to go further if need be.
Full article: West sceptical of Putin’s u-turn on Ukraine (EU Observer)