Amid escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine, it has been reported that more than 10,000 Russian troops have been returning to their permanent bases.
Interfax news agency reported on Saturday (December 25), citing the Russian military that the troops are returning after month-long drills near the Ukraine border.
The reported withdrawal of troops comes amid reports and speculations by the West that Moscow has been plotting to invade Ukraine.
“A stage of combat coordination of divisions, combat crews, squads at motorised units…has been completed,” Interfax news quoted the army as saying.
“More than 10,000 military servicemen… will march to their permanent deployment from the territory of the combined arms’ area of drills,” it added.
It has been understood that drills were held in several regions near Ukraine, including in Crimea, as well as in the southern Russian regions of Rostov and Kuban.
Heavy deployment of troops by Russia to the north, east and south of Ukraine had fuelled fears in Kyiv and Western capitals that Moscow was planning an attack.
Meanwhile, Russia has repeatedly declined the reports as it says that it can deploy its troops on its territory as it sees fit.
If reports are to be believed, an estimated number of Russian troops recently moved closer to Ukraine vary from 60,000 to 90,000.
Although, one US intelligence document indicated that the number could be ramped up as high as 175,000.
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Recently, the United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg to discuss concerns about Russia’s military build-up on the borders of Ukraine.
“They discussed NATO’s dual-track approach to Russia, noting the alliance remains ready for meaningful dialogue with Russia, while standing united to defend and protect allies,” the US State Department said.