Putin Recalls Troops From Ukraine Border

As a presidential frontrunner emerges in Ukraine
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted May 19, 2014 8:44 AM CDT
Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, is greeted by people in Sevastopol where he attends celebrations marking Victory Day, Crimea, Friday, May 9, 2014.   (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Presidential Press Service)
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(Newser) – Vladimir Putin has called on Russian troops near the border with Ukraine to head back to permanent bases, a move which could reduce regional tensions—if Russia actually follows through, the BBC reports. It's not the first time Russia has issued such a statement, and in the past, NATO hasn't seen changes on the ground. When the troops will leave, as well as how many will depart, remains in question.

If Putin is easing pressure on Ukraine, it may have something to do with the latter's likely next president, Petro Poroshenko. Polls and political insiders see the billionaire with strong odds against his closest rival, ex-PM Yulia Tymoshenko, the New York Times reports. Poroshenko is pro-West: "The main direction of development has to be European integration," he said at a recent debate. But he's also got business ties in Russia, and he was economics minister under the ousted pro-Russia president Viktor F. Yanukovich. He's "a dealmaker," says an expert. "From that point of view, it may mean that Putin is willing to give it a chance of trying to get something out of this."

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