Russia announces end of Crimea military drills, troops leaving

AFP , Wednesday 16 Feb 2022

Russia on Wednesday said military drills in Moscow-annexed Crimea had ended and that soldiers were returning to their garrisons, a day after it announced a first troop pullback from Ukraine's borders.

The Russian navy s amphibious assault ship Kaliningrad sails into the Sevastopol harbor in Crimea. The Russian navy has sent six amphibious assault ships into the Black Sea as part of a buildup of forces near Ukraine that stoked Western fears of an invasion Thursday, February 10, 2022. AP

"Units of the Southern Military District, having completed their participation in tactical exercises, are moving to their permanent deployment points," Moscow's defence ministry said in a statement.

State television showed images of military units crossing a bridge linking the Russia-controlled peninsula to the mainland.

The statement said tanks, infantry vehicles and artillery were leaving Crimea by rail.

It comes a day after Moscow said it was pulling back some of the troops deployed on its neighbor's borders.

But Western leaders remain concerned that Russia could still launch an attack on Ukraine, with US President Joe Biden warning on Tuesday that an attack by Moscow remained "very much a possibility".

Biden said that despite Russian claims earlier in the day, Washington and its allies had yet to verify the withdrawal of any of the tens of thousands of troops he says Moscow has now mustered along Ukraine's border.

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