Ukraine vows to stand tall against any invasion while Western allies see no signs of Russia withdrawing its forces from tense borders.

A feared Russian invasion of Ukraine on Wednesday did not materialise, but the US and its allies maintained the threat remains strong.
A feared Russian invasion of Ukraine on Wednesday did not materialise, but the US and its allies maintained the threat remains strong. (AP)

Ukrainians have defied pressure from Russia with a national show of flag-waving unity, while the West warned that Russia added 7,000 more troops instead of pulling back soldiers from the borders with Ukraine despite Kremlin declarations of a withdrawal.

The Ukrainian leader has repeatedly sought to project calm as well as strength during the crisis, declaring Wednesday a "Day of National Unity."

"We are united by a desire to happily live in peace," President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an address to the nation earlier in the day. 

"We can defend our home only if we stay united."

Zelenskyy denied seeing signs of the Russian pullback.

"We are seeing small rotations. I would not call these rotations the withdrawal of forces by Russia. We cannot say that," he said in televised comments, adding: "We see no change."

While a feared Russian invasion of Ukraine on Wednesday did not materialise, the United States and its allies maintain that the threat remains strong, with Europe's security and economic stability in the balance.

Later on Wednesday, the US said Russia added up to 7,000 troops near Ukraine instead of a pullout.

Speaking at a teleconference, a senior Biden administration official said Moscow's claims of a drawdown were "false" and it has increased its military presence by up to 7,000 troops in recent days.

"Every indication we have now is they mean only to publicly offer to talk and make claims about de-escalation while privately mobilising for war," said the official, according to CNN.

Russia has massed about 150,000 troops east, north and south of Ukraine, according to Western estimates. Moscow denies it has any plans to invade, and this week announced a pullback of some forces and weapons. 

While details are scarce and the withdrawal is only partial, the Russian statements have lowered the political temperature following weeks of escalating tensions.

Russian Defence Ministry video showed a trainload of armoured vehicles moving across a bridge away from occupied Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014. It also announced that more tank units of the Western Military District were being loaded on trains to move back to their permanent bases after training exercises.

But at the same time, Russia is continuing war games near Ukraine's borders and across its vast territory. The US and Europe are maintaining threats of harsh sanctions. Trust between East and West remains elusive.

READ MORE: NATO seeks to bolster eastern flank over Russia threat

'Russia must take real steps'

Also on Wednesday, US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz urged Moscow to take real steps to defuse tensions, as they warned that no significant withdrawal of Russian troops from the Ukraine border had been observed so far.

"The risk of a further military aggression by Russia against Ukraine remains high, utmost caution is required," according to a statement issued by the German chancellery following a phone call between Scholz and Biden.

Scholz had telephoned Biden to brief the US leader on his face-to-face talks on Tuesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

Both leaders welcomed Putin's statements that diplomatic efforts should continue to resolve the Ukraine crisis, and affirmed that they must be "pursued at full speed".

READ MORE: Russia announces return of troops from Crimea but Ukraine tensions persist

UK: No evidence of Russian withdrawal

Russia is continuing to build its military capabilities on the Ukrainian border, Britain's defence intelligence chief said, contradicting Moscow's claims of a drawdown of troops.

"We have not seen evidence that Russia has withdrawn forces from Ukraine's borders," Jim Hockenhull, the defence intelligence chief, said in a rare public statement.

"Contrary to their claims, Russia continues to build up military capabilities near Ukraine," he said.

READ MORE: Biden: Russian attack on Ukraine 'still very much a possibility'

Source: TRTWorld and agencies