New York Times
May 7, 2014
MOSCOW — President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said Wednesday that Russian troops had pulled back from the Ukraine border, and he urged separatists in eastern Ukraine to postpone a referendum planned for Sunday.
“We were told constantly about concerns over our troops near the Ukrainian border,” Mr. Putin said after meeting with Didier Burkhalter, the president of Switzerland and current head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. “We have pulled them back. Today they are not at the Ukrainian border but in places of regular exercises, at training grounds.”
Russia positioned 40,000 troops on the Ukrainian border soon after protesters in Kiev pushed President Viktor F. Yanukovych from power on Feb. 28. Mr. Putin’s willingness to send Russian forces under cover into Crimea and his subsequent annexation of the peninsula raised fears that he might do the same in southeastern Ukraine.
Both Crimea and southeastern Ukraine have large populations of ethnic Russians, and Mr. Putin has insisted on Moscow’s right to intervene to protect them if they are endangered. Since then, Western governments have accused the Kremlin of fomenting the very unrest and violence that Mr. Putin has vowed to protect ethnic Russians against.
This article was posted: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 at 12:09 pm