On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops to leave Ukraine’s borders and return to the bases. This is the third time he has issued such an order, but once again NATO does not see any signs of movement.
According to Reuters, an anonymous officer said, “We haven’t seen any movement to validate (the report).” Putin told Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to remove troops in Rostov, Belgorod, and Bryansk but did not specify exactly how many troops would leave.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen tweeted that NATO does not see any movement of troops leaving the border.
We haven’t seen any evidence of #Russian withdrawal of troops and I regret that
– AndersFogh Rasmussen (@AndersFoghR) May 19, 2014
On May 7, Putin ordered a pullback, but NATO released satellite images on May 12 that proved no troops left the border. In one release, NATO displayed satellite images from March 22 and March 26 paired with an image from May 9. The images from March 26 and May 9 are identical. In the second release, a satellite image of Rostov in July 2012 shows bare land, but a picture from March 23 and May 12 show Russian troops on the border.
NATO has been putting pressure on Russia to remove troops ever since forces moved into Crimea and annexed the Black Sea peninsula from Ukraine. They even called off relationships and talks with Russia as punishment for aggression towards Ukraine and boosted presence in Eastern Europe.
However, not long after Putin made the order, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajak Moscow needs to reevaluate its relationship with NATO and the European Union.
“These relations require a substantial rethink, and together with our partners from the EU and NATO nations we are trying to conduct an analysis in order to better understand where we are, where our assessments coincide and where we disagree,” state-run news agency RIA quoted Lavrov as saying at a meeting with Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak.
The EU has imposed many sanctions on Russia over annexing Crimea and aggression towards Ukraine. Ukraine erupted in protests after now ousted Russia-backed President Viktor Yanukovych chose a Russian bailout over a trade deal with the EU.