Russiaís Deputy UN Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy
Russiaís deputy envoy to the United Nations (UN) has advised Western leaders to see a doctor for their "paranoia" that Russia might stage an invasion of neighboring Ukraine.
"I think they need to have a good doctor; I recommend them to do it, specialist on such paranoia cases," said Russiaís Deputy UN Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy, rejecting the notion that his country planned to invade Ukraine.
"Our troops are on our territory, they represent a threat to no one," he was quoted as saying when asked about Russian troops along the border with Ukraine.
The Kremlin has condemned weeks-long US claims about a looming Russian invasion of Ukraine as "baseless hysteria".
Moscow announced a partial pullback of forces from near Ukraine on Tuesday.
Russiaís defense ministry on Wednesday published video showing a column of tanks and military vehicles leaving Crimea across a railway bridge after drills, adding that some troops will also return to their permanent bases.
"Combat equipment and military personnel will be delivered by military trains to the unitsí permanent deployment points," the defense ministry said.
"Upon arrival, the equipment will be serviced and prepared for carrying out the next phase of combat training."
Russiaís Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the Western governments have been "destroyed without a single shot being fired."
"February 15, 2022 will go into history as the day Western war propaganda failed. They have been disgraced and destroyed without a single shot being fired," she wrote in a Telegram post.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters at a regular briefing in Beijing on Wednesday that the US and its allies are "playing up the threat of warfare and creating tension".
"Such persistent hyping up and disinformation by some Western countries will create turbulence and uncertainty to the world full of challenges, and intensify distress and division," he said.
"We hope relevant parties will stop such disinformation campaigns and do more to benefit peace, mutual trust and cooperation."
MPs ask Putin to recognize breakaway regions
Russiaís lower house of parliament, meanwhile, voted on Tuesday to ask President Vladimir Putin to recognize the independence of two pro-Russian regions in eastern Ukraine, as the European Union expressed its opposition to the move.
"Kyiv is not observing the Minsk agreements. Our citizens and compatriots who live in Donbass need our help and support," Vyacheslav Volodin, the State Duma speaker, wrote on social media.
Volodin, a member of the ruling United Russia party, said the appeal would be sent to the Kremlin immediately.
Ukraineís Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told reporters, "If the decision on recognition is taken, Russia will de facto and de jure withdraw from the Minsk agreements with all the attendant consequences."
At a news conference in Moscow, Putin said Russians were sympathetic to the residents of the Donbass region, but he wanted the regionsí problems to be resolved through the Minsk accords.
Using stark language that Germanyís visiting Chancellor Olaf Scholz dismissed as "wrong," the Kremlin leader said Russia considered the treatment of ethnic Russians in the Donbass region as "genocide."
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said if Moscow recognized the independence of two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, it would institute an "attack without weapons."
"If this were applied then it would be an impossible situation and would be a sort of attack without weapons. It would be in violation of Ukraineís sovereignty," Le Drian declared in a parliamentary hearing.
US President Joe Biden further also insisted that a renewed invasion of Ukraine was "still very much a possibility".
Biden says Russian attack on Ukraine still possible
Former US Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein blasted the Biden administration in a Twitter post, pointing to Washingtonís long history of lying to American people.
"They lied to you about Vietnam. They lied to you about Iraq & Afghanistan. They lied to you about Syria & Libya. They lied to you about Honduras & Bolivia. They lied to you about Assange & Russiagate. So why the hell would you believe what theyíre telling you about Ukraine?" she wrote.
Ukraine hit by cyber attack
The Ukrainian government appeared to blame Moscow for a cyber attack after Russiaís announcement of a partial pullback.
Hours after Moscowís announcement, Ukraine claimed that the online networks of its Defense Ministry and two banks had been overwhelmed in what is called a distributed denial-of-service. The maneuver works when hackers flood a network with unusually high volumes of data traffic to paralyze it.
Although Kiev did not name who was behind the incident, an official statement hinted that it was pointing the finger at Russia.
"It is not ruled out that the aggressor used tactics of dirty little tricks because its aggressive plans are not working out on a large scale," said the Ukrainian Center for Strategic Communications and Information Security.
The Biden administration has been spearheading efforts to build a united front against Russia, but the attempts have been wrought with divisions among the European allies and partisan bickering at home.
At the heart of the row is the US opposition to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, a vast network of offshore natural gas pipelines that runs under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany.
Washington has grown uneasy with the prospect of Europe becoming more energy-dependent on Russia at a time when the US is trying to dominate the world energy market through its ramped-up oil and gas production as part of its "energy war."
Many analysts believe the US sees Ukraine as an opportunity to wean Europe off Russiaís gas, which explains why Washington is stoking the tensions and pursuing a confrontational policy.