Russia has decided to pull back some of the troops it sent close to Ukraine’s border.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has ordered a number of units to return back to their bases.
The European Union estimated a build of over 100,000 Russian soldiers near the border as well as in Crimea, which was seized and annexed by Russia in 2014.
Speaking in Crimea, Mr Shoigu said units on exercise would return to base.
The aims of the “snap checks” had been achieved, he added.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who earlier challenged Russian President Vladimir Putin to meet him in the conflict zone, welcomed the decision to “de-escalate” tensions at the border.
The reduction of troops on our border proportionally reduces tension. 🇺🇦 is always vigilant, yet welcomes any steps to decrease the military presence & deescalate the situation in Donbas. Ukraine seeks peace. Grateful to international partners for their support #StrongerTogether
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) April 22, 2021
“The troops have demonstrated their ability to provide a credible defence for the country,” the Russian defence minister said, adding that he had instructed the commanders of units from the 58th and 41st armies as well as several airborne divisions to start returning to their permanent bases on Friday and to complete the operation by 1 May.
President Zelensky raised the troop build-up with European leaders last week. Ukraine’s armed forces chief said Russian military units had been moving into the Rostov, Bryansk and Voronezh regions as well as Crimea, while battalion tactical groups were stationed on the border.
Following Mr Shoigu’s announcement, Nato said that any move towards reversing the escalation would be “important and well overdue”. It added that the Western military alliance remained vigilant.
Nato leaders have called a summit in June when Russia will be high on the agenda.