US official: Russia adds 7K more troops near Ukraine border

APTOPIX Ukraine Tensions
Posted at 6:12 PM, Feb 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-16 19:12:01-05

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) - Russia has added as many as 7,000 troops near the Ukraine border in recent days, contrary to claims by President Vladimir Putin that troops would be pulled back from the region, a senior Biden administration official said Wednesday.

Russia has massed about 150,000 troops east, north and south of Ukraine, according to Western estimates. Moscow denies it has any plans to invade, and this week announced a pullback of some forces and weapons. While details are scarce and the withdrawal is only partial, the Russian statements have lowered the political temperature following weeks of escalating tensions.

The U.S. official said there has been a marked increase in false claims by Russians, including reports of unmarked graves of civilians allegedly killed by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, statements that the U.S. and Ukraine are developing biological or chemical weapons, and claims the West is funneling in guerrillas. The official was not authorized to speak publicly about sensitive operations and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. The official did not provide underlying evidence.

Vice President Kamala Harris is heading to Germany Thursday and will speak to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as well as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.