Special Daily Brief on Ukraine Crisis: No de-escalation
On the 15th of February the Russian Ministry of Defence announced that some of its units based by the Ukrainian border would be pulled back. Three days later this news is unconfirmed by developments on the ground.
New Trilateral Alliance
To counter the current and future threat of Russian aggression Ukraine, the UK, and Poland have agreed to develop a Trilateral Memorandum of Cooperation. The troika of countries will work to advance cooperation in the areas of defense, economy, trade, countering disinformation, energy security, as well as coordinating support to the International Crimea Platform.
Speaking to BBC Eastern Europe Correspondent Sarah Rainsford at a military training ground in western Ukraine, Mr Zelensky said "we don't see any troop withdrawal yet" and "for now it's just statements".
With a Defence Ministerial taking place, NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg has told a press conference there aren't "any signs of de-escalation on the ground" and no withdrawals of Russian troops or equipment on the Ukraine border.
Russia's claim that it is moving troops away from Ukraine's border is "false", according to a senior White House official, who added that 7,000 extra troops have arrived in recent days.
President Zelensky reaffirms the goal of NATO membership
Asked by the BBC's Sarah Rainsford whether Kyiv was ready to give up its ambition of joining the Western military alliance, Zelensky answered: "It’s not Ukraine’s ‘ambition’. We lost 15,000 people. It’s not an ambition. It’s our life.”
Further on Zelensky continued, "It’s not about NATO. It’s about the future of the people... The question about NATO is not about membership. If we speak about NATO, the EU, the temporarily occupied territories - we are speaking about our independence. That’s it. That we decided what we want and will do in our future."
Tensions and provocations grow in Donetsk and Luhansk regions
According to the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs, the village of Stanytsia Luhanska was shelled with heavy weapons from the occupied territory of the Donbas.
As tensions grow in the Donetsk and Luhansk, the Eastern region of Ukraine, controlled by Russian-backed separatists, the US Administration is warning of Russian provocations and actions that can spark direct confrontation between both Ukrainian and Russian units.