New Delhi: The Russian Defence Ministry on Wednesday released a video of its troops withdrawing from Crimea. The development came a day after President Vladimir Putin said Russia had decided “to partially pull back troops” from the borders of Ukraine, while the Russian Defence Ministry announced that some forces from military districts were being sent back.
It is to be mentioned that around 1,30,000 Russian troops are in position on Ukraine’s northern, eastern and southern sides, and now when it has been announced that Russian military is receding from Ukraine borders know what does this mean:
The announcement coming from Putin is the strongest signal from Russia that it is trying to de-escalate the situation that has led to the military standoff near the Ukrainian border, after weeks of brinkmanship with the West.
Have the troops moved completely?
The Russian Defense Ministry on Tuesday announced only the withdrawal of units from Russia’s Western and Southern Military Districts. As these districts are closest to Ukraine, the troops could easily be sent back to the border, if needed.
According to satellite imagery, the units from the Central and Eastern Military Districts, which are some of Russia’s most advanced, remain deployed, and in recent weeks have been positioned in attack formations. Some within a few dozen miles of Ukraine’s border.
It has been observed by some analysts that even if Russia does pull back a significant number of units from the Western and Southern Military Districts, it will still have enough forces to launch serious military incursions, particularly from the north, in the direction of the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, as well as from the Crimean Peninsula. Notably, Russia has also built up a massive troop presence there that includes attack aircraft and rapid response special forces and airborne units.
The Russian Navy alone has sufficient forces deployed in the Black Sea and Sea of Azov to mount a significant amphibious assault on the Ukrainian coast. Around 2,000 troops and nearly 200 tanks and armored vehicles loaded onto six large landing craft could be deployed from Russia’s Baltic and Northern Fleets at any time.
On Wednesday afternoon, Russia announced the end of Crimea military drills, and that troops were ready to recede after a long standstill, “Russia says military drills in Moscow-annexed Crimea have ended and soldiers are returning to their garrisons, a day after it announced a first troop pullback from Ukraine’s borders. State television shows images of military units crossing a bridge back to the mainland,” as per media reports.
However, experts are sceptical and have raised questions whether it is a tactic, and whether these troops are being replaced or being rotated, since they have been deployed in cold weather for a long time.