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17 Feb, 2022 17:42

Russia tells NATO to ‘calm down’

Western officials need to tone down ‘hysteria’ over an invasion, the Deputy Foreign Minister said
Russia tells NATO to ‘calm down’

The reasons for Western panic about Russian aggression against Ukraine are entirely fictional, and the US-led NATO bloc needs to tone down its “hysteria,” the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister said on Thursday.

Speaking in an interview with Russian publication Kommersant, Alexander Grushko was responding to a statement made by the defense ministers of NATO member states, who met on Wednesday in Brussels to discuss the current tensions on the Ukrainian border. In particular, members of the bloc had expressed concern over the Russia-Belarus’ Union Resolve 2022’ joint exercises, which some saw as a potential precursor to an invasion of Ukraine.

“The exercises are over; you can calm down. The units are returning to their places of permanent deployment, as planned,” the Deputy Minister insisted in the interview.

The tone of Wednesday’s meeting of defense ministers centered around concern that, despite announcements from the Russia’s Ministry of Defence on Tuesday that troops were leaving the Ukrainian border, an invasion by Moscow was still on the cards.

“We are deeply concerned by the very large-scale, unprovoked and unjustified Russian military build-up in and around Ukraine, as well as in Belarus,” the published official statement from the meeting read.

In the interview, Grushko described the alleged “build-up of Russian forces in Belarus” as “mythical,” adding that “NATO’s ‘eastern flank’ is nothing to worry about.”

Earlier on Wednesday, before the meeting began, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg accused Moscow of “continued military build-up,” claiming that the west has yet to see “any de-escalation on the ground.”

The Secretary General’s allegations are one example of recent continued insistence by Western officials that Russia still intends to make a military incursion into Ukraine, with a senior US administration official declaring on Wednesday that Russian forces were still gathering near the frontier.

“Russia has increased its troop presence along the Ukrainian border by as many as 7,000 troops”, an American official told Reuters, on the condition of anonymity. Russia is, in fact, “privately mobilizing for war,” he claimed.