The Agence France-Presse reported Russian troops moved at least six miles away from Ukraine’s border after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops to return to their bases.
“The commanders in the exercise areas are now clarifying the routes and movement plans” for the troops to leave, Interfax quoted a ministry source as saying. “The men have started dismantling their tent camps, loading equipment and forming columns of vehicles and armour,” the ministry said.
#BREAKING Russian forces withdraw at least 10 km from Ukraine border: Kiev
– Agence France-Presse (@AFP) May 20, 2014
However, Interfax-Ukraine then reported the defense ministry did not see any sign of movement by the Russian troops. “In practice, at least at the moment, their deployment hasn’t changed,” the Foreign Ministry’s Information Policy Director Yevhen Perebyinis said at a press briefing on Tuesday.
Ukraine Border Security says no Russian troops in 10 km zone near the border, they’ve been withdrawn. @MFA_Ukraine says no movement. a mess
– Maxim Eristavi (@MaximEristavi) May 20, 2014
Putin moved troops to the border in mid-March and ordered them back for the third time on Monday, but NATO and the Pentagon never saw any evidence of abandonment. On May 12, NATO released satellite images that proved Russia was still on Ukraine’s 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.