Putin Tells Troops to Leave Ukraine's Border, But NATO Sees No Pullback



Vladimirputin
In this Monday, May 12, 2014 file photo Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Interior Ministry Troops Commander Nikolai Rogozhkin, appointed as presidentâ

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered his country’s troops back from Ukraine’s border, Moscow says.
Mr. Putin reportedly told Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to have his troops “return to their usual garrisons and continue their training at neighboring test grounds,” according to a message on the Kremlin’s website, after military training exercises in Rostov, Belgorod and Bryansk regions.
If it's true, Mashable's Christopher Miller observes, it would signal a huge step away from the brink of war.

But NATO's Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen sees no signs of any pull back Monday morning. "We haven't seen any evidence of Russian withdrawal of troops and I regret that," he tweeted.

The exercises in question had resulted in what appeared to be a massive military buildup beginning in late March, alarming Ukrainian and western officials.

"The Russians have an array of capabilities including aircraft, helicopters, special forces, tanks, artillery, infantry fighting vehicles… and these could move in a matter of hours,” Brigadier Gary Deakin, the Director of the Comprehensive Crisis Operations and Management Centre (CCOMC) at SHAPE, told reporters at the time. "These forces have a destabilizing effect and present serious implications for the security and stability of the region,” he said.
"I would characterize it as a combined arms army,” Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Philip Breedlove added. “It has all of the provisioning and enabling that it needs to accomplish military objectives if given them."
Moscow officials had at first denied that satellite images showing the buildup were from 2014, followed by a "partial drawdown," then a statement that said the country “is not carrying out any unusual or unplanned activity on its territory near the border with Ukraine that would be of military significance.

Putin also announced a pullback on May 7 — but NATO and the U.S. State Department again observed no signs of such a withdrawal on the ground.
  • Airbase_before

    Before: Buturlinovka air base

    Empty site at Buturlinovka air base before military buildup -
    17 June 2013
    IMAGE: DIGITALGLOBE VIA SHAPE
  • Airbase_after

    After: Buturlinovka air base

    Russian military buildup at formerly vacant Buturlinovka air base -
    2 April 2014
    IMAGE: DIGITALGLOBE VIA SHAPE
  • Belgorod_before

    Before: Belgorod

    Empty site near Belgorod before current military buildup -
    7 March 2014
    IMAGE: DIGITALGLOBE VIA SHAPE
  • Belgorod_after

    After: Belgorod

    Mechanized Infantry Brigade/Motorized Rifle Regiment after military buildup near Belogorod - 26 March 2014
    IMAGE: DIGITALGLOBE VIA SHAPE
  • Kuzminka_before

    Before: Kuzminka

    Empty site near Kuzminka before military buildup -
    25 October 2013
    IMAGE: DIGITALGLOBE VIA SHAPE
  • Kuzminka_after

    After: Kuzminka

    Mechanized Infantry Brigade/Motorized Rifle Regiment after military buildup near Kuzminka - 27 March 2014
    IMAGE: DIGITALGLOBE VIA SHAPE
  • Novocherkassk_before

    Before: Novocherkassk

    Empty site near Novocherkassk before military buildup -
    13 May 2013
    IMAGE: DIGITALGLOBE VIA SHAPE
  • Novocherkassk_after

    After: Novocherkassk

    Mechanized Infantry Brigade/Motorized Rifle Regiment after military buildup near Novocherkassk - 27 March 2014
    IMAGE: DIGITALGLOBE VIA SHAPE
  • Yeysk_before

    Before: Yeysk

    Empty site near Yeysk before military buildup - 14 January 2014
    IMAGE: DIGITALGLOBE VIA SHAPE
  • Yeysk_after

    After: Yeysk

    After Russian Military buildup at Yeysk - 22 March 2014
    IMAGE: DIGITALGLOBE VIA SHAPE




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