Putin orders Russian troops back from Ukraine border
Monday, May 19, 2014
MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered troops which participated in military drills in three regions bordering Ukraine to return to their permanent bases.
“Putin gave an order to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to bring back troops that participated in the war games, to their permanent bases and continue combat training at neighboring firing ranges,” the Kremlin press office said in a written statement on Monday.
Similar statements have been made by Russia in the past, but NATO has always denied seeing any withdrawal of Russian troops.
The military units in question held exercises in the Rostov-on-Don, Belgorod and Bryansk regions bordering Ukraine.
Russia also called on Ukraine to immediately halt its “punitive” military operations in the country’s southeastern regions where armed pro-Russian militants have fortified themselves in a number of cities.
“Russia calls for the immediate halt to the punitive operation, violent acts, the pulling back of [Ukrainian] troops, and to solve the accumulated issues exclusively through peaceful methods,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, pro-Russian separatists arrested four people suspected to be Ukrainian soldiers in front of a government building in Donetsk.
The building, along with other city administration offices, was seized by militant separatist groups who declared themselves independent from Kiev’s authority.
Sporadic but increasingly intense fighting continues as Ukrainian troops attempt to restore federal authority in areas held by separatist forces.
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