Sunday. 19.05.2024

Russia has begun withdrawing troops deployed in the south and west of the country, near Ukraine's border, back to their permanent bases, the Defence Ministry says, without giving an exact number.

"As combat training measures are coming to a close, the troops, as is always the case, will conduct combined marches to their permanent garrisons," Defence Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said.

"Units of the Southern and Western Military Districts that have accomplished their tasks have already begun loading personnel and equipment on railway and auto transport means and will today begin heading to their military garrisons," he said in a statement quoted by the TASS news agency.

The troop deployments have caused tensions between the West and Russia to soar to levels not seen since the Cold War. Moscow has said its soldiers were only taking part in legal military exercises.

But the show of force has stoked fears in the West - which counts over 100,000 Russian troops near Ukraine's border - that Russia is preparing an attack, an allegation the Kremlin has denied.

Russia: First troops pull away from Ukraine's border after exercises