Russia on Monday withdrew some troops from its border with Ukraine, as it sent its prime minister to the newly annexed Crimean peninsula with promises of wide-ranging economic relief.
Details of the troop drawdown were not clear late Monday, but both Russian and Ukrainian officials acknowledged that some forces had been pulled back from the tense border area. Russian authorities referred to the withdrawal of a battalion, a unit that generally consists of 500 to 700 troops. U.S. officials estimate Moscow has deployed 40,000 soldiers to the area.
The U.S. State Department cautiously welcomed the announcement.
"If reports that Russia is removing some troops from the border region are accurate, it would be a welcome preliminary step. We would urge Russia to accelerate this process," said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
She added that the U.S. also continues to urge Russia to engage in a dialogue with the government in Kyiv to de-escalate the situation, while respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
Russia pulls out battalion from near Ukraine... by reuters