Ukraine "monitoring the situation" after Russia's order to withdraw forces

Russian paratroopers take part in drills at a military aerodrome in Taganrog

KYIV (Reuters) - Ukraine said on Thursday it was monitoring the situation in its eastern regions following reports that Russia had ordered its armed forces to return to their places of deployment after drills near the Ukrainian border.

Asked about the reports of the Russian troop withdrawal, Ukraine's foreign ministry spokesman Oleh Nikolenko said: "We are monitoring the situation."

RIA news agency said earlier on Thursday that Russia had ordered its top army command to begin returning troops to their permanent bases inside the country from Friday.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Gareth Jones)