Watch Live: Biden Addresses Russia-Ukraine Crisis

Video Russian President Vladimir V. Putin has said he intends to continue talks with the West and that Russia will withdraw som...


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Russian President Vladimir V. Putin has said he intends to continue talks with the West and that Russia will withdraw some of its troops from the Ukrainian border. US officials said they were still assessing Russian troop movements.CreditCredit…Pool photo by Sergey Guneev

MOSCOW – President Vladimir V. Putin said on Tuesday that Russia had decided to “partially withdraw its troops” and the Russian Defense Ministry announced that some forces from military districts bordering Ukraine were being returned to their garrisons, a sign that Moscow could backtrack away from the threat of an invasion.

The announcement was the strongest signal yet that Russia might try to defuse the military standoff near the Ukrainian border, but it was far from clear that the threat of war had passed. Military analysts warned that it was too early to draw firm conclusions on a possible troop withdrawal without further information.

Just a day earlier, US officials, closing the US Embassy in Kyiv, had warned that an invasion seemed imminent.

President Biden, addressing the situation in Ukraine on Tuesday afternoon from the East Room of the White House, said “an invasion remains entirely possible.”

Earlier aides said in a statement that Mr Biden would reiterate the US commitment to what they called “high-level diplomacy”. The president believes that “diplomacy and de-escalation are the best way forward, but he is prepared for all scenarios,” the statement said.

Earlier in the day, speaking in the Kremlin alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Putin said Russia would continue to press its central demands for a withdrawal from NATO’s presence in Eastern Europe. Is and a guarantee that Ukraine will never join the alliance.

“We are also ready to continue on the path of negotiations, but all these issues, as has been said before, must be considered in a comprehensive way,” Putin said.

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The Russian Defense Ministry said some troops had been returned to their original bases, but large-scale military exercises would continue. US officials said they were still evaluating the Russian troop announcement.CreditCredit…Sergei Pivovarov/Reuters

It could not be determined how many troops were withdrawn, and a Defense Ministry spokesman, Igor Konashenkov, said some servicemen the drills that raised fears of an attack on Ukraine – including in Belarus and the Black Sea – would continue.

US officials said they were still evaluating the Russian troop announcement, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said alliance members “saw no signs of de-escalation”. Russia has already moved forces while leaving heavy weapons in place, Stoltenberg noted.

Yet Putin’s comments added to signs that Moscow is willing to pursue its goals through negotiation, rather than launching immediate military action. Asked how Russia would act next, Mr Putin replied with a slight smile: “According to the plan.

But the the outcome, he said, “does not just depend on us.”

“We intend and will strive to reach an agreement with our partners on the issues we have raised, in order to resolve them through diplomatic channels,” Putin said.

Moscow added some weight to any negotiation when lawmakers in the Kremlin-backed lower house of parliament called on Putin on Tuesday to recognize breakaway states in eastern Ukraine as independent. This has raised fears that Russia could use this recognition to move more of its military to the regions.

Mr Putin indicated at the press conference that he would not immediately recognize their independence.

A day earlier, Defense Minister Sergei K. Shoigu said the huge buildup of Russian troops around Ukraine was part of “large-scale exercises”. He told Mr Putin at a meeting hosted by state television that some of those drills were now ending.

Then on Tuesday, a military statement said some troops from the southern and western military districts had “completed their tasks” and were returning to their bases. Russian state television broadcast images of tanks being loaded onto wagons, describing them as images of troops returning to their garrisons.

The troops described as being withdrawn come from the military districts closest to Ukraine, meaning they would remain relatively close to the country even if they were brought back to their bases. The statement said troops arriving in the region from further afield – Siberia and the Russian Far East – would remain deployed near Ukraine for the time being.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said there was reason to be skeptical of Moscow’s statements. “When we see the pullout, we will believe in de-escalation,” he told reporters during a video briefing from Kyiv.

But Russia has continued to back away from its more pessimistic official rhetoric of recent weeks.

Foreign Minister Sergei V. Lavrov said that in the ongoing talks, the West had “reacted positively to initiatives it had long rejected.”

“I think that, thanks to the efforts in all these areas, it will be possible to arrive at a very decent and comprehensive set of results,” Lavrov said.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Watch Live: Biden Addresses Russia-Ukraine Crisis
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