MOSCOW — Russia says that some units participating in military exercises will begin returning to their bases. That adds to glimmers of hope that the Kremlin may not be planning to invade Ukraine imminently, but officials gave no details on the pullback.
It wasn't immediately clear where exactly the troops that the Russian Defense Ministry said were pulling back were deployed or how many were leaving.
According to The Associated Press, a U.S. defense official said Monday that hours before the announcement, some Russian units were moving closer to Ukraine, not away from the border. Western allies continue to believe that Russia could attack at any time.
The announcement Tuesday came after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov indicated the country was ready to keep talking about the security grievances that led to the Ukraine crisis. That changed the tenor after weeks of rising tensions.
Speaking at the start of a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Lavrov noted that the U.S. has offered to conduct dialogue on limits for missile deployments in Europe, restrictions on military drills and other confidence-building measures.
Asked by Putin if it made sense to continue diplomatic efforts, Lavrov responded that possibilities for talks haven't been exhausted and proposed to continue the negotiations.
Despite Lavrov's comments, Western officials said some forces and military hardware were moving toward the border.
The U.S. also announced Monday that it would close its embassy in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and move operations to a city further from Russia. Operations will be moved to Lyiv, located near the border of Poland and Ukraine.
Also, on Monday, two plane-loads of U.S. military equipment arrived in Kyiv to boost Ukraine's defense.