Russia says some troops returning to bases in areas near Ukraine | CBC News

Some troops in Russia’s military districts adjacent to Ukraine are returning to their bases after completing drills, Russia’s Defence Ministry said on Tuesday, a move that could de-escalate frictions between Moscow and the West.

A ministry spokesperson said in a video published online that while large-scale drills across the country continued, some units of the southern and western military districts have completed their exercises and started returning to base.

Video footage published by the Defence Ministry showed some tanks and other armoured vehicles being loaded onto railway flatcars.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Kyiv would “believe in de-escalation” only after it sees Russia’s pullout, the Interfax Ukraine news agency reported.

“We continuously hear different statements from the Russian federation, so we have a rule … we believe what we see. If we see the pullout, we will believe in de-escalation,” the report quoted Kuleba as saying.

Russia has amassed over 100,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders, prompting fears of an invasion, especially as Moscow’s Feb. 10-20 joint drills with Belarus mean that Ukraine is almost encircled by the Russian military.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was expected in Moscow later on Tuesday to meet President Vladimir Putin in a high-stakes mission to avert war.

-From Reuters, last updated at 5:40 a.m. ET

Ukraine Russia: What’s behind the current tensions?

WATCH | Reporter Briar Stewart gets rare access to Donetsk, a city in Eastern Ukraine that was seized by Russian-backed separatists years ago: 

Rare look inside rebel-controlled Donetsk

The CBC’s Briar Stewart gets rare access to Donetsk, a city in Eastern Ukraine that was seized by Russian-backed separatists eight years ago. 2:01

  • Russia has built up more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine and carried out large-scale exercises. 
  • Although Moscow has denied ever planning to attack Ukraine, it has demanded legally binding guarantees from the United States and NATO that Kyiv will not be allowed to join the military bloc. Washington and Brussels have so far refused to make such pledges.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Monday his country would continue to pursue its goal of NATO membership despite Russia’s anger and skepticism from some Western countries. Ukraine is not a NATO member and the alliance is under no treaty obligation to defend it.
  • In Ukraine, citizen-soldiers are being trained for guerrilla warfare amid worry over possible Russian invasion.
  • In 2014, Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula following the ouster of the country’s Moscow-friendly president and threw its weight behind a separatist insurgency in Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland, Donbas, where more than 14,000 people have been killed in fighting.
  • Canada, which recently closed its embassy in Kyiv, is sending lethal military equipment worth $7.8M.

-From Reuters, The Associated Press and CBC News

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said on Tuesday a full-scale removal of Russian troops from the border with Ukraine was needed after the report that some units were returning to their bases.

Asked about the Interfax report, Truss told LBC Radio she had not seen it and would need to see more details, but added: “The Russians have claimed that they have no plans for an invasion, but we will need to see a full scale removal of troops to show that is true.”

-From Reuters, last updated at 5:30 a.m. ET

The European Union is ready to discuss Russia’s security concerns, the EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said on Tuesday, as tensions between Russia and Ukraine continue to heighten.

“In order to fulfil the concerns of everybody, the only way is speaking on the table and discuss,” Borrell told BBC Radio 4. “If there is a war between Russia and Ukraine, Nordstream 2 would not become operational,” he added.

-From Reuters, last updated at 5:10 a.m. ET


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