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15 Feb, 2022 20:07

Russian invasion not on cards – Zelensky ally

A number of Western media outlets have named February 16 as doomsday for Kiev
Russian invasion not on cards – Zelensky ally

A close ally of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has claimed that the chances of a Russian incursion happening on the date a number of media outlets predict are close to zero, just hours before Russia’s armed forces announced that they are beginning to withdraw from nearby Belarus.

Speaking as part of an appearance on Ukrainian talk show Pravo Na Vlady on Monday, David Arakhamia, the head of the “Servant of the People” faction in Kiev’s parliament, cast doubt that a Russian invasion is looming.

“During the escalation in the spring of 2021, 220,000 Russian soldiers and equipment were concentrated around Ukraine’s borders - theoretically enough for a major attack,” he explained. “Now Russia has 123,000 troops, which is almost half the number, at the Ukrainian frontier.”

However, he did not rule out that Moscow could move the necessary number of troops for an offensive to the region within a month or two.

According to him, “from a military point of view, as they have explained to us, a full-scale attack is impossible…Our intelligence does not see signs that the Russians are directly preparing.”

The official said that he is “99.9% confident that nothing will happen” on February 16, the date a number of Western media outlets have designated as the day of a possible incursion.

German news outlet Der Spiegel claimed on Friday that US intelligence agency the CIA and the American military had warned Berlin and other NATO members that Moscow was readying itself to attack on February 16. British tabloid The Sun published a report on Tuesday alleging that Russian troops will strike in the early hours “with a massive missile blitz and 200,000 troops,” citing Washington’s intelligence.

Western officials have been raising fears for months that Russia could soon invade its neighbor, and have pointed to reports of a troop build-up on the two countries’ shared border, as well as joint exercises with Belarus. On Tuesday, Russia announced that it had started the process of withdrawing its troops after having completed training drills in the former Soviet Republic, situated close to Ukraine.

The Kremlin has repeatedly insisted that it has no plans to attack and has hit out at Western media outlets for whipping up “hysteria.”

Last month, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security Council, Aleksey Danilov, stated that he did not share the same sense of “panic” raised in the West, which he believes is connected to “geopolitical and domestic” reasons.