Slowly, Slowly: Russia Troops Pulling Back from Ukraine Border

News Brief — May 28, 2014

Russian troops pictured on manoeuvres in the West of the country during the current crisis in Kiev

Russian troops massed on the border with Ukraine may be preparing to withdraw to their home bases, according to NATO.
“NATO has observed some continued Russian troop activity in the vicinity of the border with Ukraine over the past days. There is some evidence of equipment and supplies being packed or prepared for movement in certain locations,” a NATO officer told Reuters on Tuesday.
“The activity we are observing at present could suggest a slow or staged withdrawal of forces”, he continued. “
However the majority of the more than 40,000 Russian soldiers still remain close to where they were originally deployed on the border.
In addition to the more than 40,000 troops, Russia has also moved a combat helicopter brigade to the region bordering Ukraine and the Baltic states.
As yet there has been no word on the withdrawal of the combat helicopter brigade.
“At present, the bulk of the previously deployed Russian force remains in the vicinity of the border,” the officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said.
Meaning that Russia still has a substantial force at hand to advance quickly into Ukraine, should it decide to do so.
Meanwhile Ukraine’s Border Service chief Mykola Lytvyn has also confirmed the withdrawal of some Russian troops from regions bordering Ukraine.
Although a withdrawal of some units appeared to be underway it was far from complete, he said
“We have information that troops are being pulled away from the state border. Reconnaissance, radio communication and interception units have fallen behind,” Lytvyn told reporters.
President Putin first announced the withdrawal of Russian forces from the border with Ukraine in early May.

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