A file image of Russian President Vladimir Putin with the country's Minister of Defence, Sergei Shoigu (Image courtesy: Twitter/@KremlinRussia_E)
An intense war of words continues between the United States and Russia even as Moscow decided to pull out a part of its troops from the area of its military exercises with Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, while addressing the media after talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Tuesday, said that his country cannot "turn a blind eye" to the United States and the North Atlantic Alliance interpreting the key principles of equal and indivisible security.
"We see the forceful containment of Russia as a direct and immediate threat to our national security; legal agreements based on the drafts we have proposed would in fact remove this threat," said Putin.
Following the telephone conversation on February 12 between Putin and US President Joe Biden, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had spoken with each other on Tuesday to pursue a diplomatic solution to the ongoing crisis.
"Secretary Blinken reiterated our ongoing concerns that Russia has the capacity to launch an invasion of Ukraine at any moment and emphasized the need to see verifiable, credible, meaningful de-escalation," US State Department spokesperson Ned Price had commented earlier today.
When asked about the "ongoing hysteria" surrounding Russia's "invasion" of Ukraine and the "new evidence" that the US needed, Lavrov said that the developments did not amuse but instead caused "deep bewilderment".
"Whatever we do on our territory, the West considers itself entitled to tell us how we should behave. This is a basic lack of education," the Russian Foreign Minister said after the 2+2 format talks with Brazil in Moscow today.
"This is manifested in recent calls to 'check what Russia is doing there'. Like, we said that the exercises were over, but they 'do not believe'. Allegedly, they will have the opportunity to verify from satellites and using other information from intelligence services," added Lavrov.
While giving an update on Russia and the situation in Ukraine on Tuesday, the Biden had mentioned that the US is still to verify claims that the Russian military units are returning to their home bases and "an invasion remains distinctly possible" which is why Washington has asked Americans in Ukraine to leave "before it is too late".
"Indeed, our analysts indicate that they remain very much in a threatening position. And the fact remains: Right now, Russia has more than 150,000 troops encircling Ukraine in Belarus and along Ukraine's border," said the US President.
Russian diplomats from Moscow to the missions at the United Nations and the European Union today laughed off at what it called "western media's hype", saying that many people are trying to make a career for themselves, gain ratings and gain popularity on a "Russophobic" path.
"Wars in Europe rarely start on Wednesdays… This may not be a strong enough guarantee, but I can assure you that, as far as Russia is concerned, there will be no attack this coming Wednesday. Nor will there be any escalation next week or the week after, or next month," remarked Vladimir Chizhov, Permanent Representative of Russia to the EU.
"If you make accusations – especially such very serious accusations against Russia – you bear the burden of providing evidence. Otherwise it is slander," he told Die Welt, a German national daily newspaper.
Maria Zakharova, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, also took a dig at the US and British media on the "planned invasion" of Ukraine.
"A request to the US and British disinformation media Bloomberg, The New York Times, The Sun, etc. – announce the schedule of our "invasions" for the coming year. I would like to plan a vacation," Zakharova posted on her Telegram handle.
The Russian Foreign Ministry also highlighted the "culmination of misinformation campaign launched by the West, on Russia's mythical invasion of Ukraine", saying that NATO continues to "pump weapons into Ukraine" under the information cover created by them.
"Today we mark another day of the 'start of war with #Ukraine,' which did not happen again, to the Western media outlets' regret, no matter how hard they whip up the hysteria. See for yourselves what the collective Western media and officials' words are worth," said Zakharova on Wednesday.