MOSCOW, May 19 (Xinhua) -- Russia started withdrawing troops from regions bordering Ukraine on Monday in an apparent effort to ease tensions between Moscow and Kiev.
"Due to completion of the planned spring drills at the training ranges in Rostov, Belgorod and Bryansk regions, President Vladimir Putin ordered the defense minister to return the troops to their permanent bases," the Kremlin press service said.
The Kremlin also said Putin welcomed the first contacts between Kiev authorities and militant leaders in Ukraine's eastern regions, stressing that all sides of the dispute must participate in direct dialogue.
On May 25, Ukraine will hold early presidential elections, which the eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk have refused to recognize.
The two regions proclaimed independence from Kiev on May 11 following referendums which followed the example of the March referendum in Crimea, where a large majority supported the peninsula separating from Ukraine and joining Russia, a move not recognized by Kiev and the West.
Putin urges active European move to solve Ukrainian gas rub
MOSCOW, May 15 (Xinhua) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin called on European leaders Thursday to take concrete and active measures to help solve the Ukrainian gas debt problem and stabilize that country's shrinking economy.
"We hope that the European Commission will more actively engage in the dialogue in order to work out specific and fair solutions that will help stabilize the Ukrainian economy," Putin said in a letter, the second time since April 10, to 18 European leaders regarding the supply and transit of Russian gas across Ukraine. Full Story
Russia accuses OSCE of distorting Ukrainian situation
MOSCOW, May 15 (Xinhua) -- Russia has accused an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) monitoring mission to Ukraine of distorting the situation in that country's south and east.
"Reports of the OSCE mission hardly reflect or simply conceal the Kiev authorities' and right sector militants' daily use of armed force against local residents," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told reporters Thursday. Full Story