(CNN) — Potentially easing a diplomatic standoff with the West, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Germany’s chancellor Monday that he’d ordered a partial withdrawal of Russian troops from his country’s border area with Ukraine, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office said.
Putin made the comment to Merkel in a phone call about Ukraine, her office said. The Kremlin made no mention of a withdrawal in its own description of the call, but said the two leaders discussed Ukraine, including “possibilities for international assistance to restore stability.”
Further details about Putin’s reported order weren’t immediately available. But a withdrawal may ease tensions simmering since Russia annexed Ukraine’s Black Sea peninsula of Crimea this month — a move that has led to the worst East-West standoff since the Cold War.
Earlier Monday, Russian media reported that one Russian infantry battalion was being moved from the border area to its base deeper into Russia.
Ukrainian and Western officials for weeks have voiced alarm about Russia’s reported military buildup on Ukraine’s eastern border, which has raised fears that Russian troops would enter the Ukrainian mainland. Russia may have 40,000 troops near its border with eastern Ukraine and another 25,000 inland who are on alert and prepared to go in, two U.S. officials have told CNN….Share on Facebook