Overnight, AFP reported that Russian forces have begun a gradual withdrawal from the Ukrainian border, citing a Russian defense ministry official. "In recent days, the Russian forces have been gradually withdrawing from the border," the Ukrainian defence ministry's general staff spokesman Oleksiy Dmytrashkivskiy said in a telephone interview. Moments ago, Reuters confirmed this story:
- RUSSIAN DEFENCE MINISTRY SAYS ONE INFANTRY BATTALION IS WITHDRAWING FROM REGION NEAR UKRAINIAN BORDER - RUSSIAN STATE NEWS AGENCIES
And Bloomberg added:
- RUSSIA: PLATOON HEADING BACK TO SAMARA REGION FROM ROSTOV: RIA
- RUSSIAN PLATOON RELOCATING AFTER DRILL IN ROSTOV REGION: RIA
So is Putin de-escalating, and now merely biding his time until the Ukraine elections when the population, suddenly facing 100% price increases in heating costs, capital controls, and a collapsed economy will have to empower the current government to continue the status quo? Or just another headfake to show that even Putin is malleable to "negotiations"? Or, as the official explanation says, it was merely the end of a drill, and the platoon will now be stationed elsewhere along the border?
Stay tuned to find out.