NATO officials reported a withdrawal of large numbers of Russian troops from Ukraine to locations near the border. About 20,000 Russian troops have been stationed on the Ukrainian border since early September.
NATO observers have reported a “significant pullback” of Russian forces inside Ukraine, though many still remain stationed in the vicinity, military officials said Wednesday.
"There has been a significant pullback of Russian conventional forces from inside Ukraine, but many thousands are still deployed in the vicinity of the border," Lieutenant-Colonel Jay Janzen told Reuters.
"Some Russian troops remain inside Ukraine. It is difficult to determine the number, as pro-Russian separatists are routinely moving back and forth across the border. Further, Russian special forces are operating in Ukraine, and they are difficult to detect," he said.
An early September analysis estimated that Russia had thousands of combat troops and hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles inside Ukraine itself, with an additional 20,000 on the Ukrainian border.
Meanwhile, mortar fire struck an apartment complex in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk overnight - another violation of the ceasefire agreed to on June 5, that top NATO General Philip Breedlove has said exists “in name only.” Two people were killed in the attack, the RIA Novosti news agency reported, citing rebel sources.
More than 3,000 people have been killed since fighting broke out in April between the Ukranian military and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
bw/ksb (Reuters, AP)