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Moscow to withdraw troops from Ukrainian border

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Moscow to withdraw troops from Ukrainian border

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Photo: Russian Defense Ministry Press Service

Moscow will complete its troop withdrawal from Crimea and the eastern border of Ukraine today.

Tensions between Russia, the US and its European allies spiked recently when a large-scale military exercise in Crimea—which included 10,000 personnel and 40 warships—was held in tandem with the movement of an estimated 100,000 Russian troops to the Ukrainian border. Today’s military drawdown will see all personnel involved in both deployments return home. However, heavy weaponry will be left behind in anticipation of the Zapad (West) large-scale military exercise, scheduled later this year.

While Western countries feared a Russian invasion of Ukraine, the exercises served alternative purposes. Without concern for global repercussions, Moscow demonstrated its willingness and ability to quickly move troops to the Ukrainian border in the event of a major regional conflict. Fearing this possibility, the US, through the Ukraine Security Partnership Act, aims to provide Kyiv with $300 million in military aid to prepare Ukraine for NATO accession. However, Russian military exercises may dissuade US congressional members from passing the bill if it has the potential to spark a Russia-Ukraine conflict. Thus, Moscow will likely continue to threaten military action against Ukraine by holding exercises near the border to influence the NATO accession process.

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