Putin orders troops back to bases after drills in regions bordering Ukraine (VIDEO)
“As the planned spring stage of the drills, which included redeployment of the troops to training areas in Rostov, Belgorod and Bryansk regions, has come to an end, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu to send troops back to their permanent bases and to go on with their military exercises at training areas nearby,” the Kremlin’s press service said.
In the same statement, Moscow called on Kiev to cease violence in southeastern Ukraine, immediately.
“Russia calls for the immediate cancellation of the punitive operation and violent actions, on troop withdrawal and finding a peaceful solution to all the problems,” the statement reads, adding that President Putin would welcome meetings between the government in Kiev and supporters of federalization.
Sporadic military clashes between Ukrainian troops and self-defense forces have been reported throughout the weekend in the towns of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region – two hotspots of the ongoing military operation conducted by Kiev to suppress anti-government forces there.
“The gunfire is a fabric of daily life now in Slavyansk, but this is the heaviest fighting I’ve heard in Slavyansk since I got here over a month ago,” said freelance journalist Graham Phillips, who is reporting for RT from southeastern Ukraine.
Ukraine’s Donetsk and Lugansk regions held referendums on May 11, where the majority of voters supported self-rule. Now the breakaway regions are rejecting the idea of participating in the Ukrainian presidential elections on May 25.
On Sunday, two Russian LifeNews journalists were detained near the town of Kramatorsk, presumably by the Ukrainian military.
News Media Holding, which owns LifeNews, has appealed to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, asking him to help with the release of the journalists. Moscow has condemned the detention and asked the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) for assistance in releasing the journalists.