“Russia said on Saturday it was pulling back about 10,000 troops from near the Ukrainian border in an unexpected major de-escalation as it gears up for talks on Nato concessions with the United States.
The troops from the Southern Military District will return to their permanent bases after months of drills near Ukraine because they have accomplished their tasks, according to the Russian Defence Ministry.
“A stage of combat coordination of divisions, combat crews, squads at motorised units… has been completed. More than 10,000 military servicemen… will march to their permanent deployment from the territory of the combined arms’ area of drills,” Interfax quoted the army as saying.
The exercises were held in several regions near Ukraine, including in Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, as well as in the southern Russian regions of Rostov and Kuban, according to the report.
Russia has been amassing troops and equipment near the border with Ukraine since October, raising fears of an imminent invasion. Military analysts have said the buildup was inconsistent with regular military exercises.
The Kremlin has denied any plans to send troops into Ukraine, arguing that Russian troops are free to do what they want on Russian soil.
However, Moscow has been pushing for legally binding guarantees from the West that Nato will bar Ukraine or any other eastern European country from joining the alliance and will not deploy any weapons or troops near Russia’s border.” Yahoo
Comment: “… an unexpected major de-escalation.” Unexpected? Not here. The man doesn’t want NATO expanded to his border. Get it? What a strange thing for him to want! pl