To Complete Troop Pullback From Ukraine Border 'Within Days': Deputy
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[May 23, 2014]
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia will pull
back all forces deployed to regions near its border with Ukraine "within
a few days", its deputy defense minister said on Friday, a move that if
carried out could ease tensions before Ukraine's presidential election
Moscow has concentrated tens of thousands of troops across the
border from eastern Ukraine where pro-Russian separatists have
declared two independent states.
Kiev and its Western allies see the Russian troops as a potential
invasion force should Moscow choose to back the rebels openly,
fuelling pre-election tensions. The United States and EU hope the
vote will strengthen the embattled central government.
Asked whether Russia would comply with Western calls for a
withdrawal of its troops near the Ukraine frontier, Deputy Defense
Minister Anatoly Antonov told Reuters: "They will see it - 100
percent ... We will leave less than nothing behind."
He said that Russia had already moved 20 transport planes and 20
trains worth of personnel and military equipment out of the
provinces of Rostov, Belgorod and Bryansk flanking Ukraine after
completing what he said were military exercises there.
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A full withdrawal of forces deployed to the regions could be
completed "within a few days," he said.
(Reporting by Thomas Grove; Writing by Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing
by Mark Heinrich)
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