LONDON, February 16. /TASS/. Troops in western Russia may return to their usual positions in three to four weeks, Russian Ambassador to Ireland Yury Filatov said in an interview with the RTE TV channel.
"What I can tell [you] is, within maybe three to four weeks, the configuration of the forces in the Western region of Russia will resume its normal standard posture. We are conducting planned exercises with Belarusian military forces. They will be over by February 20 and these troops will be withdrawn. You can check on that next week," he pointed out.
When asked about the locations from which the troops would leave and where they would move, Filatov said it was "nobody’s business". "They will go exactly where they need to go. They are going in the Russian territory," the envoy noted.
Filatov slammed Western allegations about Russia trying to use gas as a weapon to destabilize the situation in Europe as "propaganda cliches". "Of course there is no sinister plan in Moscow to destabilize Europe, because we all live in Europe and we want a stable Europe. We have pretty good relations with European countries, including Ireland - and it is just ridiculous to suggest such a thing," the Russian ambassador said. "As far as gas is concerned, over this winter we have been increasing gas supply to Europe over our contractual obligations. I don’t think you can describe that as using gas as a weapon," Filatov stressed.
The West and Kiev have recently been echoing allegations about Russia’s potential invasion of Ukraine. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov castigated these claims as "empty and unfounded", serving as a ploy to escalate tensions, pointing out that Russia did not pose any threat whatsoever to anyone. However, Peskov did not rule out the possibility of provocations aimed at justifying such claims and warned that attempts to use military force to resolve the crisis in southeastern Ukraine would have serious consequences.