Russia has withdrawn over 10,000 troops from the Ukrainian border as it prepares to enter security discussions with the Biden administration in the new year.
The Russian military has said that the troops have returned to their permanent bases after participating in “months-long drills” near the border.
Russian President Vladimir Putin gives a thumbs-up as he attends a foundation-laying ceremony for the third reactor of the Akkuyu nuclear plant in Turkey, via a video link in Moscow, Russia, March 10, 2021. (Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin via REUTERS )
“A stage of combat coordination of divisions, combat crews, squads at motorized 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.
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Western nations worried for the past few months over the troop buildup, which totaled around 100,000 troops at its peak in November. Some nations started to caution that Russia might be in the middle of preparing to invade the Ukraine in a similar fashion to its annexation of Crimea in 2014.
In this photo taken from video distributed by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service, a new Zircon hypersonic cruise missile is launched by the frigate Admiral Gorshkov of the Russian navy from the White Sea, north of Russia, July 19, 2021. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)
Putin has repeatedly denied such plans, instead claiming the U.S. and its European allies had instead tried to whip up fears of invasion in order to justify their own troop movements on the other side of the border.
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Putin urged the Western nations to make pledges to limit expansion and activities ahead of the longer discussions he will engage in with President Biden in January.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky takes part at a commemoration ceremony at a monument of Heroes of Heavenly Hundred, activists who were killed during the anti-government protest the Euro Maidan revolution in 2014, in Kyiv, Ukraine, in November 2021. (STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
“You must give us guarantees, and immediately – now,” he said regarding a proposal Russia handed to the United States this month in a move to defuse tensions over Ukraine.
Putin claimed the U.S. had responded positively to the security proposal and said he was hopeful about negotiations next year in Geneva, Reuters reported.
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“We are also prepared to discuss them [security guarantees] on the OSCE [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe] platform. I hope this initial positive response and the announcement that this work could possibly start in the near future, during the first days of January, would enable us to move ahead,” Putin said.