President Zelensky says there are still 75,000 Russian troops on the border with Ukraine
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has stated that there are still approximately 75,000 Russian troops near Ukraine’s borders. He also claimed that the Russian forces are withdrawing from the border region too slowly, and that they could still pose a threat to Ukraine.
“We see only 3,500 soldiers who have begun to withdraw and left the territory of the temporarily occupied Crimean Peninsula. So far, we aren’t seeing a reduction [in Russian troops] anywhere else. We believe that the reduction is [too] slow and therefore a threat may still exist,” Zelensky said during a joint press conference with U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken in Kyiv on Thursday, May 6 (as quoted by Interfax).
In turn, Blinken also said that Russia had “withdrawn some troops, but significant forces remain on the border with Ukraine.” He also added that the United States is watching the situation closely.
Since the end of March, Russia has been massing forces near the border with Ukraine and on the annexed Crimean Peninsula. This has taken place against the backdrop of an exacerbation of the war in eastern Ukraine. The Russian Defense Ministry has attributed the troop movements to snap military exercises and the Kremlin has maintained that Russia doesn’t pose a threat to anyone. The United States described the buildup as the highest concentration of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border since 2014.
On April 22, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu announced that troops involved in the military exercises would withdraw to their places of permanent deployment by May 1.