Pentagon: No evidence of Russian 'troop withdrawal'

The Pentagon downplayed reports of a Russian troop withdrawal from Ukraine’s borders, saying there's no evidence of a pullback.

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“We have not seen any indications of a troop withdrawal on the eastern border," Army Col. Steve Warren said on Tuesday. “We have seen a unit moving along the eastern border — movement that you would expect to see in this situation. ... There’s naturally going to be movement of resupply, of small and medium size units. This is going to be routine in a large troop deployment of this nature."

However, he added, “If the reports are true, we would welcome that as a step in the right direction.”

Warren said there was also no evidence of any exercises taking place either, despite Russian officials saying the troop building along Ukraine’s borders was intended to carry out springtime exercises.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasian Policy Evelyn Farkas and European Command Director for Strategy and Policy Maj. Gen. Randy Key are in Kiev for bilateral defense consultations with Ukraine, Warren announced.

They have met with Ukraine’s defense minister to discuss “regional security, defense cooperation, and areas for growth in the Ukraine-U.S. defense relationship,” Warren said.

The last consultation of this type occurred last March, he said. There has not been any decision yet over what additional military aid to provide Ukraine forces, after the arrival this weekend of 300,000 foil meal packets.