Putin orders troops back from Ukraine border | News | DW | 12.10.2014

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Putin orders troops back from Ukraine border

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered his defense minister to move troops currently near Ukraine's border "back to their permanent bases," according to the Kremlin. Talks on Ukraine's fragile truce are due soon.

Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said overnight on Saturday that the Russian president had ordered Russian troops back to their permanent bases following military exercises in the Rostov region near Ukraine's border, after meeting with Defense Minister Sergei Shoiyu.

"The minister had reported to the Supreme Commander about the completion of the summer period of training on shooting ranges of the southern military district," Peskov said. "After the report, Putin ordered to launch the return of the troops to their permanent bases... In total, these are 17,600 military servicemen who were trained on the shooting ranges of Rostov region in summer."

NATO Satelliten-Photos Russische Truppen INNERHALB Ukraine 21.08.2014 AUSSCHNITT

NATO said these images showed Russian vehicles within Ukraine

Authorities in Ukraine and NATO had criticized the Russian troops being stationed close to the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Russia maintained that their presence in the region was for routine training exercises. NATO also said late in August that Russia had allowed troops and vehicles across the border to assist pro-Russian separatists in the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, allegations the Kremlin rejected.

Since September 5 a shaky ceasefire has held in eastern Ukraine, for the most part halting the four-month conflict between the military and separatists.

On Saturday, Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko said that he would meet with Putin in Italy next Friday on the sidelines of an EU-Asia summit in Milan. The two leaders last met face to face late in August in Minsk, not long before the ceasefire agreement was signed.

'Shhhhh... We're in Sochi'

President Putin was expected in Sochi on Sunday for the inaugural Formula One Russian Grand Prix. Prior to the race, the sport's commercial operator, Formula One Management (FOM), issued an email to the F1 teams requesting "total silence" on the grid when the national anthem is played.

"We kindly request that during the national anthem, there is to be total silence on the grid," the email read. "It has been alleged that Formula One is one of the most ill-mannered sports in relation to the national anthem and complaints from fans, public, and political institutions, are now too heavy to ignore."

The national anthem is usually played around 10 minutes before the start of a grand prix, a feverish period of preparation for teams, drivers, and mechanics on the grid. The issue has been raised several times in the past, but an email edict demanding silence from FOM is unprecedented.

German publication Bild reported on Sunday, meanwhile, that Putin's presence at the race could cause further disruptions to the event. Bild claimed that a television blackout at the circuit, and a podium ceremony held behind protective bulletproof glass, were among the possible last-minute changes as part of Putin's security measures.

msh/jm (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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