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U.S. Says Russia’s Claims of Troop Withdrawal Were “False”

Repeatedly throughout this crisis, the Biden administration has publicized intelligence about Russia’s possible moves as a way to disrupt Putin’s plans and preempt Russian disinformation.
Photo: Alexei Nikolsky\TASS via Getty Images
Photo: Alexei NikolskyTASS via Getty Images

The U.S. now believes that Russia's claims that it is withdrawing troops from near Ukraine are "false," and that Moscow has in fact increased its presence on the border "by as many as 7,000 troops" in recent days, a senior administration official told reporters Wednesday.

Why it matters: The explosive claim suggests that Vladimir Putin publicly offered to reopen negotiations "while privately mobilizing for war," the official said.

  • The official did not provide evidence for their claims, but satellite imagery and open-source intelligence shows a continued Russian military buildup near Ukraine in recent days.

What they're saying: "Yesterday, the Russian government said it was withdrawing troops from Ukraine. They received a lot of attention for that claim, both here and around the world. But we now know it was false," the official said, speaking to reporters on the condition of anonymity.

  • "In fact, we have now confirmed that in the last several days, Russia has increased its troop presence along the Ukrainian border by as many 7,000 troops with some arriving as recently as today."
  • "The Russians have also said in recent days that they are prepared to engage in diplomacy, as we and our allies have repeatedly offered. But every indication we have now is they mean only to publicly offer to talk and make claims about de-escalation while privately mobilizing for war."

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