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Russia announces the end of maneuvers and the departure of forces from Crimea

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Units of the Southern Military District having completed their tactical exercises on the bases of the Crimean peninsula return by rail to their home basesaid the Russian Ministry of Defense, quoted by the Russian agencies.

Russian television showed nighttime images of an endless train carrying armor crossing the bridge over the Kertsch Strait, built at great expense by Russia to connect Crimea to Russian territory.

On Tuesday, Moscow announced a withdrawal partiel of its soldiers deployed for weeks on the borders of Ukraine, a sign of relaxation after two months of fears about an imminent invasion of its neighbor against the backdrop of the Russian-Western crisis.

The Skeptical West

Europeans and Americans are still awaiting proof of a major Russian military withdrawal, while saying they are cautiously optimistic. Russia has not specified the extent or timing of this withdrawal.

The head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell showed himself very circumspect on Wednesday in the face of the announcement of a withdrawal of Russian forces from Crimea, stressing that it was first necessary to to verify.

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It would be, if it were true, no doubt a sign of relaxation, he very cautiously noted on France Inter radio. Always checkhe added, however.

There may be encouraging signs […] But on the other hand there are also worrying signsnoted Josep Borrell in reference to a call in Russia for the recognition of separatist territories in eastern Ukraine.

Russia plays hot and cold. One day she tells us that everything is possible, that she will return to the negotiating table, and the next she sends a squadron to the Black Sea. »

A quote from Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs

The Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, voted Tuesday an appeal to President Vladimir Putin in favor of this recognition. The Kremlin has assured that there is currently no no official decision makes sense, but that this request reflected the opinion of the population Russian.

More than 100,000 soldiers are deployed according to Westerners on the Ukrainian borders with a quantity of heavy equipment. And important Russian-Belarusian maneuvers continue until February 20 in Belarus, Ukraine’s pro-Russian neighbor.

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