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Putin Claims Russia Has Pulled Back Some Troops

Putin’s overtures soothed global markets that have been on edge amid the worst East-West tensions in decades. Washington and its European allies remained cautious, saying they want to see evidence of a Russian pullback.
Ukrainian servicemen wait in formation before an exercise in the Joint Forces Operation, in the Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022. While the U.S. warns that Russia could invade Ukraine any day, the drumbeat of war is all but unheard in Moscow, where pundits and ordinary people alike don't expect President Vladimir Putin to launch an attack on its ex-Soviet neighbor. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Ukrainian servicemen wait in formation before an exercise in the Joint Forces Operation, in the Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022. While the U.S. warns that Russia could invade Ukraine any day, the drumbeat of war is all but unheard in Moscow, where pundits and ordinary people alike don’t expect President Vladimir Putin to launch an attack on its ex-Soviet neighbor. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that he welcomed a security dialogue with the West, and his military reported pulling back some of its troops near Ukraine. But U.S. President Joe Biden said the U.S. had not verified Russia’s claim and that an invasion was still a distinct possibility.

Putin said he does not want war and would rely on negotiations in his efforts to eliminate any chance that Ukraine could one day join NATO. At the same time, he did not commit to a full pullback of troops, saying Russia’s next moves in the standoff will depend on how the situation evolves.

In remarks at the White House, Biden promised that the U.S. would continue to give diplomacy “every chance” to prevent a Russian invasion, but he struck a skeptical tone about Moscow’s intentions. Biden also insisted that the U.S. and its allies would not “sacrifice basic principles” respecting Ukraine sovereignty.

“Two paths are still open,” Biden said. “But let there be no doubt: If Russia commits this breach by invading Ukraine, responsible nations around the world will not hesitate to respond. If we do not stand for freedom where it is at risk today, we’ll surely pay a steeper price tomorrow.”

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