Contrary to some news reports that Russian troops are entirely pulling back from the border with Ukraine, the U.S. Department of Defense reports that just a small number of Russian troops have actually pulled back from the southern and eastern borders of Ukraine, and thousands more remain in place.
“We have seen continued activity of preparations for departure of some units, not all,” Rear Adm. John Kirby said at a Pentagon briefing on May 23rd, 2014.
The admiral said it is too soon to say if this is the wholesale withdrawal that Russian President Vladimir Putin announced for the third time. “It’s our expectation and hope that that movement is away from the border,” the admiral said. “I can tell you that on a small scale we have actually seen the movement of some units away from the border region, apparently back to what we would consider garrison, their home base.”
But the remaining Russian troops are enough to continue to intimidate Ukraine. Those troops “are escalating the tension there in Ukraine, and we continue to call for the removal of all those troops,” Kirby said.