It has been decided to send subdivisions of the Armed Forces, which held drills near Russian's western border, to their sites of permanent deployment in order to avoid speculations during the elections in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
"In order to create additional and favorable conditions around the upcoming presidential elections in Ukraine and in order to avoid speculations [we did this]. If someone does see what is happening, let them look closer," Putin told reporters.
"By the way, my order to the Defense Ministry to withdraw troops from the sites, where they held training, is related, among other things, to the fact that these contacts, first contacts started. I hope that they will end positively," Putin said.
Russia's stance is still that direct contact should be introduced between the Kiev authorities and southeastern Ukraine, the president said. "You know we have done everything for these direct contacts," he said.
As to the issue related to the presence of Russian troops at the Ukrainian border, some time ago "indeed they were quite close to the border," Putin said.
"Some time ago I ordered the Defense Ministry to withdraw them. Now the Defense Ministry has received a different order - to withdraw them even farther from these ranges," he said.
"I want to emphasize once again that this was done not because we are shy to keep our troops there, in the end, we are a sovereign state and keep our forces wherever we want," the president said.
The decision was made, among other things, in order to create favorable conditions for the coming elections in Ukraine, Putin said.
Time is needed to withdraw troops because the number of servicemen and equipment is significant, the president said. "I think that with good weather they will see all this soon," Putin said when commenting on statements on NATO and the United States that they did not see withdrawal of the Russian troops.
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