Defence ministry announces one battalion pulling out from the region a day after US and Russia hold talks in Paris.
Russia has pulled out a motorised infantry battalion from a region near Ukraine’s eastern border, the Russian defence ministry said.
Monday’s announcement pointed out that the battalion was heading back to its permanent base in Russia’s Samara region after completing trainings, but did not make clear whether other Russian troops near the border would pull back.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin told Germany’s Angela Merkel in a phone call on Monday that he had ordered a partial withdrawal of Russian army from the region, Merkel’s spokesman said in a statement.
The move came after US Secretary of State John Kerry said - after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Sunday - that progress on resolving the crisis over Ukraine depended on a troop pullback from the border.
Earlier on Monday Ukraine’s defence ministry said there has been a gradual withdrawal of Russian troops from its border.
“In recent days, the Russian forces have been gradually withdrawing from the border,” Oleksiy Dmytrashkivskiy, Ukraine’s defence ministry spokesman, told AFP news agency.
US and EU officials estimated over the weekend that Russia’s sudden military buildup along Ukraine’s eastern frontier had reached between 30,000 and 40,000 soldiers. Agencies
Kiev’s Centre for Military and Political Studies analyst Dmytro Tymchuk said on Monday that his sources had told him that Russia had only 10,000 soldiers remaining near the border by Monday morning.
The Ukrainian defence ministry official said Kiev had not been formally notified of the drawdown by Moscow and therefore did not know precisely why the troops were being moved.