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Russia announces withdrawal of some troops from Ukraine border after military drills

Source: Interfax

Units of Russia’s Western and Southern military districts are preparing to return to their bases after completing military drills, Interfax reported on Tuesday, February 15, citing the Russian Defense Ministry.

“Units of the Southern and Western Military Districts that have completed their tasks have already begun loading personnel and equipment on railway and auto transport and will begin heading to their military garrisons today. Individual units will march on their own as part of military columns,” said Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov. 

Konashenkov added that military drills involving “all military districts, fleets, and airborne forces” are set to continue. In particular, troops of Russia’s Eastern Military District and the Airborne Forces are taking part in the ongoing joint exercise with Belarus “Allied Resolve,” which is scheduled to end on February 20. Russia is also conducting naval exercises in the Black Sea. On Tuesday, the Black Sea Fleet’s press office reported that naval aircraft were practicing defending the Crimean Peninsula. 

During a televised meeting on February 14, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu told President Vladimir Putin that “some of these [military] exercises are nearing completion, and others will end in the near future.” 

The announcement on Tuesday that some Russian troops would begin returning to their bases led to an immediate jump in the ruble and stock prices. Within minutes, the dollar exchange and euro exchange rates rose 75.6 rubles and 85.7 rubles, respectively (a more than 1 ruble increase in both cases).

Since the fall of 2021, Russia has massed more than 100,000 troops along its border with Ukraine and in Belarus, leading to a sharp increase in international tensions. Western countries warn that the buildup appears to be the prelude to a full-fledged invasion of Ukraine. Russian officials deny the accusations, claiming the troop movements are part of military drills.

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