initiates partial troop withdrawal for Ukrainian border
Earnest March 31, 2014
Media MOSCOW—Russia has announced it is withdrawing some troops from along Ukraine's eastern border.
The German government said Russian President Vladimir Putin told
Chancellor Angela Merkel about the partial withdrawal in a telephone
Russia's Defense Ministry said a motorized infantry battalion was being
withdrawn from the southern Rostov region after ending military drills.
There was no information on the number of troops involved. A battalion can include between 300 and 1,200 troops.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that if the reports are confirmed, "it would be a welcome preliminary step."
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the administration had not yet seen a drawdown of Russian forces.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier welcomed the Russian
announcement, calling it a "small signal" that the situation might be
Russia in the past month massed thousands of soldiers on its border with
Ukraine, raising concerns that after annexing Crimea it might invade
other parts of Ukraine.
The Kremlin said Putin also told Merkel in their telephone call that
Ukraine needs constitutional reforms to protect the interests of
residents of the country's different regions.
Putin has previously spoken of the need to protect the interests of ethnic Russians and Russian-speakers in Ukraine.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry was cautious in its statements regarding Russian troop movements.
"We have information that the Russian Federation is carrying out
unfathomable maneuvers on the borders with Ukraine -- in some border
places they are taking away troops, in others they are coming closer,"
ministry spokesman Evhen Perebiynis told reporters in Kyiv. "Such
actions cannot fail to cause concern especially since we today do not
have a clear explanation from the Russian Federation about the aims of
these movements." Add