Russian military stationed near Ukraine’s borders are returning to their posts, according to the Russian defence ministry, after days of build-up and heightened concerns of a full-scale conflict.
According to the AFP, “Units of the Southern and Western military districts… will begin moving to their military garrisons,”
Meanwhile, shortly after rumors of Russia drawing its forces back, Ukraine declared that it had successfully averted a Russian invasion with the support of the West. “We and our friends have managed to keep Russia from escalating further. It is already the middle of February, and you can see that diplomacy is still at work “Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, told reporters in Kyiv.
Russia has positioned thousands of troops around the former Soviet territory in recent weeks, raising concerns of invasion. The Russian military has been conducting military training near Ukraine and in Belarus, which has heightened tensions. Approximately 30,000 troops are engaged in drills, according to the US, which has threatened Russia with harsh economic consequences if it goes forward with its invasion plan. The military training will continue until February 20.
The dread of a Russian invasion was apparent among Ukrainians, especially following stories of youths constructing trenches. Residents are also considering purchasing gas canisters and putting up an escape plan in the event that Putin’s army invade the country.
The scale of the pull-out is unknown, but it might only involve a small portion of Russia’s soldiers on the Ukrainian border, which western sources estimate to be more than 60% of the country’s ground forces.
The claims also come as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Russian President Vladimir Putin prepare to meet to ease tensions over Ukraine. His discussions with Putin are the latest in a frenzied diplomatic effort to persuade Putin not to invade Ukraine.
The retreat was announced in a statement by Igor Konashenkov, a spokesperson for the defence ministry, who reported ongoing drills involving units from “practically all military districts, fleets, and airborne forces.”
“Units from the southern and western military districts are boarding trains and trucks and will return to their garrisons later today,” Konashenkov said in a statement.
Following a meeting with Putin earlier this week, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that certain Russian war drills will be ending soon.