1 Apr 2014

Partial withdrawal of Russian troops ordered

8:46 am on 1 April 2014

President Vladimir Putin of Russia has ordered a partial withdrawal of troops from the border with Ukraine.

Mr Putin informed Herman Chancellor Angela Merkel of the move in a telephone conversation on Monday.

However, Russian soldiers are still reported to be deployed along the border.

Earlier, Ukraine condemned a visit to Crimea by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev of Russia and a delegation of government ministers.

Mr Medvedev announced that he would make Crimea a special economic zone, with tax breaks and reduced bureaucracy to attract investors.

The BBC reports he also vowed to quickly boost salaries and pensions, and to improve education, healthcare and infrastructure.

Also on Monday, the Russian defence ministry announced that the 15th Separate Motor-Rifle Brigade battalion had completed field exercises at the Kadamovsky range in the Rostov region, and was returning to its permanent base in the Samara region.

Crimea voted to leave Ukraine for Russia on 16 March, in a referendum condemned as illegal by the UN General Assembly.

Pro-Kremlin Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown in February in Kiev, after months of street protests.