Ukraine Update: 15 February, 2022 (AM)

Statements by the Russian Defense Ministry this morning that some military units from the Southern and Western Military Districts are withdrawing following the conclusion of exercises they were engaged in have been greeted with cautious optimism by the West. There have so far been no indications seen by NATO or the United States that de-escalation is underway. Aside from a handful of units supposedly returning to their home bases, and Russia now openly talking about further rounds of diplomacy, the situation is unchanged. Exercises in Belarus and the Black Sea continue and according to reports from US officials, Russian units close to the border are moving into their forward assembly areas.

We’ve talked about the buildup to hostilities recently and how ambiguity becomes an important tool for Moscow to mask its true intentions. These supposed withdrawals could be underway solely to help create the illusion of Russia choosing use diplomacy as the primary avenue to resolve its security concerns instead of intimidation and force. Or, the pullbacks could be real and in the coming hours and days evidence of this will become clear. Time will tell.

The danger has not passed, and this crisis is far from being resolved. I’ll talk more about other events taking place in the afternoon update.

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