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Putin orders end of military drills near Ukraine border: Kremlin

Published on May 19, 2014 4:29 PM
President Vladimir Putin has ordered military forces that took part in drills in three regions bordering Ukraine to return to the places where they are permanently deployed, the Interfax news agency reported on Monday. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered an end to military exercises in regions bordering Ukraine, the Kremlin said on Monday, while also calling on Kiev to immediately withdraw troops from east Ukraine.

“Due to the end of the planned spring training of troops that included their movement to Rostov, Belgorod, and Bryansk regions, the Russian president ordered... troops participating in the drills to return to their permanent bases,” a statement sent to Russian news agencies said.

Russian troops have been deployed in the three regions bordering Ukraine since March, much to the worry of Ukraine’s new authorities as well as Western countries fearing a potential invasion.

Moscow argued repeatedly that it had the right to carry out any exercises within its borders, accusing the West of exaggerating the military presence just east of Ukraine, including near the Donetsk and Lugansk regions where separatists declared independence this month.

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