Feb 15, 2022 - World

Russia says it's pulling back some troops from Ukraine border

TOPSHOT - Russia's President Vladimir Putin looks on during the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, at the National Stadium, known as the Bird's Nest, in Beijing, on February 4

Russia's President Vladimir Putin during the opening ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing on Feb. 4. Photo: Wan Zhao/AFP via Getty Images

Some Russian troops near Ukraine's border are returning to their bases after completing missions, but other large-scale drills remain ongoing, Russia's defense ministry said on Tuesday.

Why it matters: It's a sign that Russian President Vladimir Putin may be willing to de-escalate the crisis, but the threat of war isn't over yet, per the New York Times.

Details: "The units of the Southern and Western military districts, having completed their tasks, have already begun loading onto rail and road transport and will begin moving to their military garrisons today," spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.

  • "A number of combat training exercises, including drills, have been conducted as planned," Konashenkov added.
"The Russian Armed Forces are continuing a range of large-scale exercises for operational training of troops and forces. Practically all military districts, fleets and the Airborne Troops are taking part."
— Russian defense ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov

What they're saying: "The path for diplomacy remains available if Russia chooses to engage constructively," White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at a briefing on Monday.

  • "However, we are clear-eyed about the prospects of that, given the steps Russia is taking on the ground in plain sight."

Worth noting: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said during a news conference on Monday that while he wanted his country to join NATO "for our security," he conceded this could remain "a dream," according to the NYT.

What to watch: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was traveling to Moscow from Kyiv on Tuesday to meet with Putin in an attempt to avert war.

Go deeper: How the Afghan fallout is shaping Biden’s response to Ukraine

Go deeper