Putin Orders Russian Troops to Withdraw from Ukraine's Border
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered that 40 000 soldiers pull back from the border with Ukraine, the country's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reported.
Shoigu informed Russian media via the Kremlin's press office that the move was in relation to "the completion of the planned spring phase of troops' training", which led Putin to order the returning of soldiers to their permanent dislocations, according to Russia's RBC Daily.
This is not the first reassurance by Moscow that it is putting an end to military presence along the Ukrainian border. The Kremlin issued a similar statement in April, but NATO officials revealed its soldiers had retained their positions near Ukrainian territory.
Ordered in March, the military buildup of forces there followed tensions between Moscow and Kiev over the incorporation of Crimea into Russia, which triggered harsh rhetoric from Russian and Western officials.
Moscow also announced in end-April it would start drills with troops deployed there, citing the situation in Ukraine and a so-called "anti-terrorist" operation against pro-Russian separatists as a reason for its actions.
NATO has repeatedly expressed concern at the deployment of Russian soldiers in immediate proximity to Ukraine's eastern regions, where unrest has been flaring for weeks.
The alliance has even approved measures to step up defense at its eastern flank, including the Baltics and the Black Sea region.
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