Thousands of Russians returning to bases -reports

After Russian troops took part in month-long drills in several regions near Ukraine, more than 10,000 soldiers are returning to their permanent bases.

That’s according to Interfax news agency on Saturday, citing the Russian military, which described the drills as: A stage of combat coordination... now completed.

Russia's deployment of tens of thousands of troops to the north, east and south of Ukraine had fueled fears in Kyiv and the West that Moscow was planning an attack.

Some drills took place in Crimea – which Russia annexed in 2014.

There have been a flurry of phone calls between western leaders and Russian President Vladimir Putin in recent months over Russia's military build-up on the Ukrainian border. But Putin has denied any plans for an invasion.

He says Russia needs commitment from Western nations – including a promise from NATO not to expand the alliance eastward towards Russian borders - because its own security is threatened by Ukraine's growing ties with the Western alliance.

Moscow also says that it can deploy its troops on its own territory as it sees fit.

One U.S. intelligence report suggested there could be up to 175,000 troops that recently moved closer to Ukraine.

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