- Moscow said some forces near Ukraine are returning to bases
- Russia-Ukraine tension has been building up for days, raising concerns over possible invasion
- Russia however has denied any possibility of invading Ukraine
In what could be assumed as a little breather amid Russia-Ukraine tension building up for days, some Russian forces near Ukraine are returning to bases, AFP quoted Kremlin ministry on Tuesday.
According to AFP, Moscow said some military forces deployed near Ukraine are returning to their bases after a build-up of Russian forces around Ukrainian borders spurred fears of an invasion.
“Units of the Southern and Western military districts… will begin moving to their military garrisons,” it said.
The latest development has come after Moscow on Monday said it was ready to keep diplomatic channels open with the west on the matter.
The Kremlin and the West held out the possibility of a diplomatic path out of the Ukraine crisis, even as Russia appeared to continue preparations for a potential invasion, including moving troops and military hardware closer to its neighbor.
At a made-for-television meeting with President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov signaled Monday that Russia was ready to keep talking about the security grievances that have led to the crisis.
The comments seemed designed to send a message to the world about Putin’s own position and offered some hope that war could be averted, even as Washington, London and other allies kept up their warnings that troops could move on Ukraine as soon as Wednesday.
The fears stem from the fact that Russia has massed more than 130,000 Russian troops on Ukraine’s borders to the north, south and east. It has also launched massive military drills in Belarus, an ally that also borders Ukraine.
Russia denies it has any plans to invade Ukraine, and Lavrov argued that Moscow should hold more talks, despite the West’s refusal to consider Russia’s main demands.
The talks “can’t go on indefinitely, but I would suggest to continue and expand them at this stage,” Lavrov said, noting that Washington has offered to discuss limits for missile deployments in Europe, restrictions on military drills and other confidence-building measures.
Moscow wants guarantees that NATO will not allow Ukraine and other former Soviet countries to join as members. It also wants the alliance to halt weapons deployments to Ukraine and roll back its forces from Eastern Europe.
(With inputs from AP)