Ten thousand Russian military servicemen are reportedly returning to their “permanent deployment points” from field training on the border with neighboring Ukraine, according to Interfax news, which quoted statements from the Russian military.
The reported redeployment comes after months of tension and reports that Russia was planning a multi-front offensive against Ukraine in early 2022. However, the troop redeployment appears to represent only a fraction of the 70,000 to 100,000 Russian troops believed to be stationed near the border.
One of the regions where troops were located is Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.
NPR has not independently confirmed the report.
“In the troops of the Southern Military District, the stage of combat coordination of squads, crews and crews in motorized rifle formations, military units of combat arms and special forces has come to an end,” the statement from the military said.
The statement also said the servicemen will continue to serve on a combat watch.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy held a video call with 20 U.S. senators and members of Congress on Friday to express concern about Russia’s troop movements and long-standing tensions in the country’s eastern Donbas region, where Kremlin-backed rebels have been fighting since 2014, The Associated Press reports.
Zelenskyy’s office issued a statement emphasizing the importance of U.S. involvement in a peaceful settlement of the conflict.
“Now, more than ever, it is not words that matter, but decisive actions,” the statement quoted the Ukrainian president as saying. “My goal is to stop the bloodshed in the east of Ukraine. It’s impossible to imagine security in Europe without ending the war in Donbas.”
U.S. and European leaders have said Russia would face severe consequences and stepped up sanctions if it invaded Ukraine. But the Kremlin has denied its troops pose any threat.