Russian Troops: Ukraine Border Sees Pullout; About a Third Remain

Image: Russian Troops: Ukraine Border Sees Pullout; About a Third Remain A member of a newly-formed pro-Russian armed group called the Russian Orthodox Army mans a barricade near Donetsk airport.

Friday, 30 May 2014 03:01 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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Two-thirds of Russian troops have left the Ukraine border and remaining troops seem prepared to leave as well.

Citing information from an unnamed NATO intelligence officer, USA Today said several thousand Russian soldiers remain along the Ukrainian border.

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U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told The Washington Post on Thursday that many of Russia’s 40,000 troops in Ukraine had been removed, and while that was a positive action that acceded to the United State’s demands, the fact that some troops remained was a concern.

“They are not where they need to be and won’t be until all of their troops ... are gone,” Hagel told the Post.

Even as the troops withdraw or prepare to do so, a NATO officer unnamed by the Post said actions lately "fundamentally changed" the region’s dynamics and said nothing would "erase or reverse what happened in recent months."

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe reported that one of its teams sent in to monitor the Ukraine situation has been unreachable since being stopped in Severodonetsk by armed men. Four international members and one Ukrainian language assistant were on the team.

Another team, with four international members, already had been reported missing May 26, OSCE said.

Meanwhile, fighting continued in the country between government soldiers and rebels.

The downing of a Ukrainian military helicopter that killed a general and 13 soldiers this week and the disappearance of the OSCE monitoring missions have escalated tensions. President Barack Obama blamed “outside” forces for supplying the rebels with weapons.

A Russian news service reported that the increased fighting halted the Russian troop withdrawals and that military equipment remained in place near the Ukrainian/Russian border, Bloomberg News reported.

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