Hagel Sees No Evidence of Russian Pullback from Ukraine

Introduction — May 12, 2014

Satellite images show fighter planes, helicopters and troops, which officials say could be ready to move in 12 hours, near the border with Ukraine. Click to enlarge

Speaking on ABC’s “This Week” program on Sunday, U.S. Defense Secretary Hagel said that he had seen no evidence the Russians were dispersing the troops it had amassed on the border with Ukraine.
Together with an estimated 40,000 troops, Russia had also deployed armour, warplanes and helicopter combat units close to the border. Moreover, there was no indication that Russia intended the deployment to be a temporary measure.
Speaking on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Representative Mike Rogers said the Russians appeared to be rotating personnel in the deployed units: pulling some men back but replacing them with fresh troops when they did so.
So despite Putin’s claim to have withdrawn from the border with Ukraine, combat units are being kept in a state of readiness in the region should he decide to intervene.

David Lerman — Bloomberg May 11, 2014y.

‘Bottom Line’

Turning to the Ukraine crisis, Hagel said he sees no evidence Russia has withdrawn troops massed on its border.

“They’re not leaving, as far as we can tell,” Hagel said in the interview taped yesterday.

The U.S. and European Union accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of trying to destabilize Ukraine in a push to increase his sway in territories that once comprised the Soviet Union. Putin has arrayed a force of as many as 40,000 troops on Ukraine’s eastern border, according to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

“Russia continues to isolate itself for a short-term gain,” Hagel said. Asked if Russia is an enemy of the U.S., Hagel said, “we’re not at war with Russia.”

Replacing Troops

Representative Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Putin has begun replacing troops on the border who have fulfilled their military service.

“They’re pulling troops out, but for the sole purpose of rotating out their conscripts,” Rogers, a Michigan Republican, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program. There’s no sign Putin is engaged in a “wholesale” withdrawal, Rogers said.

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