Russian forces along Ukraine’s borders have gone up by nearly 7,000 troops in recent days, as per CNN’s reports of US allegations that came after Moscow claimed it was pulling back troops. 

A senior official in the US administration said that this buildup renders Russia’s statement of withdrawal false, as reported by CNN. Further, CNN noted the official’s warning that Russian President, Vladimir Putin, only disguised his public openness to a diplomatic solution. 

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The official said, “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”, as per CNN. 

With the new troop buildup, the total number stationed along Ukraine’s borders would be north of the 150,000 estimate provided by US President Joe Biden in a television address earlier in the week. The CNN reported him saying, “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 and Belarus and along Ukraine’s border”.

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Putin’s claims of withdrawing Russian troops have so far been met with scepticism from both the NATO countries and Ukraine. As per CNN, the senior official warned that Russia might use a pretext to invade Ukraine. Further, CNN reported him saying “We should expect more false reports from Russian state media over the coming days. We don’t know what form the false pretext will take. But we hope the world is ready”.

Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg noted that no sign of de-escalation at ground level could be observed. However, the silver lining was Moscow’s belief that diplomatic talks should continue. 

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The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken added to this during an interview with ABC News, saying “a difference between what Russia says and what it does” is always present. He further added to ABC News that “no meaningful pullback” was observed. 

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Initially, the US and Russia had locked horns since the latter wanted NATO to block Ukraine’s entry and reduce their military presence in eastern Europe. However, the US refused these demands which led to the Ukraine border crisis.