U.S. official: Russia withdraws most troops from Ukraine’s border, except for 7 battalions

Russia has withdrawn most of its troops from the Ukrainian border, but seven battalions, amounting to thousands of men, remain, a U.S. defense official said on Friday.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, in Singapore to attend a weekend security conference, has called the withdrawal of thousands of Russian troops from the border a promising sign, but said all troops positioned there earlier this year needed to be moved back.

The defense official said that most of the troops had been pulled back.

‘The majority have gone,’ he told reporters. ‘But seven battalions remain.’ The official said he had no figure for the number of troops that had withdrawn. ‘But … thousands still remain,’ he said.

The U.S.-led NATO military alliance has previously estimated that Russia had around 40,000 soldiers close to the border. Ukraine’s acting defense minister said on Friday that Ukrainian forces would press ahead with a military offensive against rebels in the east until peace and order had been restored there.

www.belsat.eu/en, via reuters.com

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