But it is unclear how many forces will remain and what military infrastructure will remain in place near eastern Ukraine, where pro-Moscow rebels have been fighting Ukraine’s Western Allied government for seven years.
In his state of the nation address Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin did not explain why Russia had deployed additional forces on Ukraine’s eastern border and the Crimean peninsula.
But Russia’s military tide in the region – including the Crimean Peninsula which was annexed by Ukraine in 2014 – has been widely seen as a warning to the Biden administration and allies that Moscow is firmly behind eastern Ukrainian separatists. and its hold on the Crimea.
“I hope no one crosses the red line as far as Russia is concerned,” Putin said Wednesday. “And where this red line will be drawn, we will decide for ourselves.”
Michael Kofman, senior researcher at the CNA think tank who monitored military activity, he said on Twitter that “he would not have considered the matter resolved”.
The withdrawal is partial. For example, armored vehicles in a field camp in the Voronezh region of Russia, about 100 miles from the Ukrainian border, remain stationary.
“The next two weeks will prove to be significant,” Kofman She said. “If Russia actually starts redistributing as suggested, then it is fair to interpret this as a coercive demonstration, but it also appears that some elements will remain. How much, where and for how long: these are pending questions “.
The conflict between Russia and Ukraine was a major rift between Moscow and the West, and Russia’s annexation of Crimea resulted in international condemnation and sanctions.
Estimates of some 85,000-110,000 Russian troops amassed at the border had fueled fears in Ukraine and the West that Russia was preparing to annex the separatist-controlled region.
Analysts said Russia’s goal for the build-up may have been to send a message to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky not to attempt to change the status quo in the region due to a new US administration that has vowed to take a tougher line with Moscow.
State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters Thursday that the withdrawal of Russian troops has been noted and the US “will be watching for this result.”
Zelensky wrote on Twitter that “the reduction of troops on our border reduces the tension proportionally. [Ukraine] he is always vigilant, but welcomes any steps to decrease the military presence and ease the situation in Donbas. Ukraine seeks peace “.