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Are Russian troops withdrawing from the Ukrainian border? Not as far as NATO can see

Ukraine reported yesterday that troops had started leaving the area.

A Russian solder sits in the tank T-72B at the Ostryakovo railway station not far from Simferopol, Crimea.
A Russian solder sits in the tank T-72B at the Ostryakovo railway station not far from Simferopol, Crimea.
Image: Pavel Golovkin/AP/Press Association Images

A PLANNED WITHDRAWAL of Russian troops from the country’s border with Ukraine has not been observed by NATO forces.

Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told journalists ahead of a NATO foreign ministers meeting on the crisis in Ukraine that he could not confirm the withdrawal of Russian troops from near the Ukrainian border, as announced by the Kremlin:

Unfortunately I cannot confirm that Russia is withdrawing its troops; this is not what we have seen.

Ukraine and the United States have accused Russia of massing thousands of troops near the border and have expressed concern that Moscow intends to seize southeastern parts of Ukraine that are home to large populations of ethnic Russians, following the Crimea takeover.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office said Putin had personally informed her of the troop pullback in a telephone conversation on Monday, and said today that she had ”no reason” to doubt a partial troop withdrawal  would go ahead as relayed.

Ukraine also reported  yesterday that Russian troops were leaving the flashpoint area.

NATO foreign ministers are meeting at the alliance headquarters in Brussels to forge a response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea last month.

But as the talks began, NATO seemed to be stepping back from reinforcing military presence in countries bordering Russia, preferring for now to give more time to diplomacy.

- © AFP, 2014

Yesterday: Putin orders ‘partial’ troop pullout >

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