Russia says withdrawing more military forces deployed near Ukraine

The Russian drawdowns announced Friday are the latest in a series this week that initially spurred hope for a reduction in tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine.
Russian army tanks are loaded onto railway platforms to move back to their permanent base after drills in Russia. Russia says it is returning more troops and weapons to bases.(Photo | AP)
Russian army tanks are loaded onto railway platforms to move back to their permanent base after drills in Russia. Russia says it is returning more troops and weapons to bases.(Photo | AP)

MOSCOW: Russia said Friday it had begun withdrawing more tanks and other armoured vehicles from areas near Ukraine's border after running war games that had raised concerns in the West.

"Another military train carrying personnel and military equipment belonging to tank army units of the western military district returned to their permanent bases in the Nizhny Novgorod region after completing scheduled exercises," the Russian defence ministry said in a statement.

Separately, it said 10 Su-24 warplanes were redeploying from the Moscow-annexed Crimean peninsula to airfields in other regions.

The Russian drawdowns announced Friday are the latest in a series this week that initially spurred hope for a reduction in tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine.

The West has accused Moscow of massing tens of thousands of troops both on Crimea and near Ukraine's borders and warned of an imminent Russian attack.

In response to the first announcements of the pullbacks, however, Washington said there was no meaningful reduction in troop numbers and said Russia was actually increasing forces around the border.

Tensions have been exacerbated by Russian war games in Belarus, and the strongman leader of that country, Alexander Lukashenko was due in Moscow later Friday for talks with President Vladimir Putin.

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