[QODLink]
Europe

Russia pulls some troops from Ukraine border

Defence Ministry announces withdrawal of one battalion, a day after US and Russia held talks in Paris.

Last updated: 31 Mar 2014 21:01
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

Russia has pulled out a motorised infantry battalion from a region near Ukraine's eastern border, the Russian Defence Ministry said.

Monday's statement said the battalion was heading back to its permanent base in Russia's Samara region after completing training. The statement did not make clear whether other troops near the border would be pulled back.

Russian President Vladimir Putin told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that he had ordered a partial withdrawal of Russian forces from the region, the Merkel said in a statement.

US Secretary of State John Kerry told his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Sunday that progress on resolving the Ukraine crisis depended on a troop pullback from the border.

Earlier on Monday, Ukraine's Defence Ministry said there had been a gradual withdrawal of Russian troops from its border.

"In recent days, the Russian forces have been gradually withdrawing from the border," Oleksiy Dmytrashkivskiy, Ukraine's Defence Ministry spokesman, told AFP news agency.

US and EU officials estimated over the weekend, that Russia's sudden military buildup along Ukraine's eastern frontier had reached between 30,000 and 40,000 soldiers.

Kiev's Centre for Military and Political Studies analyst Dmytro Tymchuk said on Monday that his sources had told him Russia had only 10,000 soldiers remaining near the border by Monday morning.

The Ukrainian Defence Ministry official said Kiev had not been formally notified of the drawdown by Moscow and therefore did not know why the troops were being moved.

"This could be linked to a regular rotation of soldiers," said Dmytrashkivskiy. "Or it may be linked to the Russian-US negotiations."

Crimea economic zone

In Crimea, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced on Monday that Moscow would declare the peninsula as a special economic zone with tax incentives to attract investors, according to Reuters news agency.

He made the announcement during his visit to the former Ukrainian region.

Crimean officials have said their economy is facing a shortfall and needs economic stimulus from Russia.

Medvedev promised to raise the level of salaries for municipal employees and pensions to average Russian levels and to modernise the region's hospitals.

"As a result of joining Russia, not one resident of Crimea, not one resident of Sevastopol should lose anything. They can only gain," Medvedev said during the special cabinet meeting.

Local officials, including Crimean Prime Minister Sergei Aksyonov, were also present at the meeting that was broadcast on Russian state television.

411

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Since she was 16-years-old, Scottish Nationalist Party's Sturgeon has strove for independence from the UK.
Armed group's ransom success with German hostages marks a re-emergence, as authorities investigate ISIL links.
Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.