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NATO chief: Russia continues military buildup at Ukraine border

Russia is continuing its military buildup on the Ukrainian border despite claiming it is beginning to withdraw some troops, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday.

“So far we have not seen any de-escalation on the ground — on the contrary, it appears that Russia continues the military buildup,” Stoltenberg told journalists outside the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels as he arrived for a meeting with NATO defense ministers.

Stoltenberg said Russia had shown “signs” it would continue diplomatic negotiations, but he added NATO had not yet received an answer to the organization’s written proposals sent to Russia on January 26.

“We will continue to convey a very clear message to Russia that we are ready to sit down and discuss with them, but at the same time we are prepared for the worst,” he said.

Russia signaled Monday that some military exercises were coming to an end, while the Russian defense ministry said Tuesday that some units had “already begun loading onto rail and road transport and will begin moving to their military garrisons today.” Belarus’s Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei said Wednesday that “not a single” Russian soldier would remain in the country after the two countries led joint military exercises on Ukraine’s border.

While more than 100,000 Russian troops are amassed on the Ukrainian border, the Kremlin has repeatedly dismissed claims it is preparing to invade the country as Western “hysteria.”

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