Russia is pulling back, but not completely

Apr 24, 2021 | Headlines, International

Russian troops were ordered to pull back some of their troops from Crimea and Voronezh regions easing tensions with Ukraine.

The Kremlin’s Defence Minister Sergey Shoygu ordered the army to return to their bases before May 1. At that time, there were already more than 10,000 soldiers, 1,200 weapon units, 200 aircraft, 40 warships and 20 battleships near Crimea, an area is 26,850 square kilometres or half of Nova Scotia, according to the Ministry of Defence’s report.

“I believe that the objectives of the snap inspection [of the military forces] have been fully achieved,” Shoygu said on April 22. “The troops have demonstrated the ability to provide reliable defence for the country.”

The units leaving the area include the 58th Combined Arms Army from the North Caucasus Military District, located more than 1,000 kilometres from the Ukrainian border; the 41st Combined Arms Army from the Central Military District, based more than 4,000 kilometres east of Ukraine; the Seventh Guards Mountain Air Assault Division based in Krasnodar Region, about 400 kilometres from Ukraine; the 76th Guards Air Assault Division from Pskov Region, which travelled more than over 1,800 kilometres to Crimea; and the 98th Guards Airborne Division from Ivanovo Region about 1,000 kilometres north of Ukraine.

A militant of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DNR) holds a weapon at fighting positions on the line of separation from the Ukrainian armed forces south of the rebel-controlled city of Donetsk, Ukraine April 2, 2021. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko
A militant of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) holds a weapon at fighting positions on the line of separation from the Ukrainian armed forces south of the rebel-controlled city of Donetsk, Ukraine, on April 2. Photo credit: REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

But the 342nd Radio Technical Regiment is going to stay. The Conflict Intelligence Team of investigators in Russia has found and disclosed its relocation, but Shoygu didn’t mention them in his list of units that took part in the training exercises.

The regiment travelled nearly 6,500 kilometres from Chita city, in the Siberian region of Zabaykalsky Krai.

Meanwhile, 30 Ukrainian soldiers were killed in battle with Russian-backed separatists. A 39-year-old soldier from the Volyn region, 425 km west from Kyiv, died after being hit with an anti-tank guided missile on April 22.

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The counterintelligence of the Security Service of Ukraine has reported on its official website they caught a Ukrainian who is a FSB agent from Zhytomyr, 140 kilometres west of Kyiv, on April 23. He was reportedly gathering information about army leaders, including compromising data and soldiers’ personal addresses.

He also allegedly made videos of two Ukrainian military bases that could have been sent to the Russian Federal Security Service. The detainee admitted to cooperating with the Kremlin and was arrested.

The Ukrainian Joint Forces Operation warned on its Facebook page about a series of possible attacks on April 25 by rebels in Donetsk and Luhansk.

Its concerned any attacks could cause casualties as people prepare for Orthodox Easter, which is on May 2, but priests intend on sanctifying rituals this weekend which will attract the followers.

Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, had a briefing with self-proclaimed Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, in which he agreed to meet and talk with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Service members of the Ukrainian armed forces are seen at fighting positions on the line of separation near the rebel-controlled city of Donetsk, Ukraine April 24, 2021. REUTERS/Serhiy Takhmazov
Ukrainian soldiers are seen at fighting positions on the line of separation near the rebel-controlled city of Donetsk, Ukraine, on April 24.

“If it comes about the development of bilateral relationships, we would be happy to meet the Ukrainian president in Moscow at any time comfortable for him,” he said.

Putin refused to talk about the fighting involving Russian troops in Donetsk and Luhansk, as he claimed Russia has nothing to do with it.

Also, the Kremlin leader refused to talk about the occupation of Crimea.

“The president himself said that it is possible to talk only about bilateral relations, such topics as Crimea doesn’t exist,” said Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s press secretary. “Therefore, there is nothing to discuss.”