Russian units appearing to leave Ukraine posts according to Russian MOD return to the points of permanent deployment 15022022 CREDIT RUSSIA MOD.jpg
Footage shared by Russian MOD appears to show Russian tanks leaving Ukrainian border area (Picture: Russian MOD).
Russia

Russia says it's pulling some troops back from Ukraine border

Russia has amassed an estimated 130,000 troops along its border with Ukraine, but has repeatedly denied it is planning to invade.

Russian units appearing to leave Ukraine posts according to Russian MOD return to the points of permanent deployment 15022022 CREDIT RUSSIA MOD.jpg
Footage shared by Russian MOD appears to show Russian tanks leaving Ukrainian border area (Picture: Russian MOD).

Russia says some of its troops stationed near the Ukraine border are returning to their bases.

It comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Moscow is ready for talks with the US and NATO on limits for missile deployments and military transparency, in a new sign of easing East-West tensions.

Boris Johnson has said there are "mixed signals" coming out of Russia about the prospect of an invasion of Ukraine – but an "avenue for diplomacy" remains open.

It is not immediately clear how many troops are leaving the border area where Russia has amassed an estimated 130,000 troops, sparking widespread fear of an invasion into Ukraine.

While NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says there are grounds for "cautious optimism" following Russia's announcement and that there are signs Moscow is "interested in continuing with diplomatic efforts".

UK Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss has said Russia needs to "commit to meaningful talks", after the Kremlin failed to send a representative to a European negotiation meeting.

She added: "Russia is patently failing to live up to the international commitments it has made around transparency".

Russia's defence ministry said that some units participating in military exercises will return to their bases, adding to glimmers of hope that the Kremlin may not be planning to invade Ukraine imminently.

Russia has always denied it is planning to attack Ukraine.

A tweet from the Russian defence ministry's official account on Tuesday morning appeared to show a video of tanks retreating from the Ukraine border, although this has not been independently verified.

Despite Russia's announcement, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss stressed the threat of an invasion remained as she confirmed some British embassy staff had moved out of the capital Kyiv to Lviv in western Ukraine, further away from the troops amassed on the Russian side of the border.

Ukraine warned to wait to see proof of the pull-out, saying "when we see the withdrawal, then we'll believe the de-escalation".

Ukraine's Foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba added: "Russia constantly makes various statements.

"That's why we have the rule: we won't believe when we hear, we'll believe when we see."

Russian officials have given no details on where the troops were pulling back from, or how many, muddying efforts to determine the significance of the announcement, which buoyed world financial markets and the long-suffering ruble after weeks of escalation in Europe's worst East-West standoff in decades.

It comes a day after Russia's foreign minister indicated his country was ready to keep talking about the security grievances that led to the Ukraine crisis — a gesture that changed the tenor after weeks of tensions.

But hours before the Russian Defence Ministry statement about the troops, a US defence official said Russian units were moving closer to the Ukrainian border, and Western officials continued to warn that the Russian military could attack at any time, with some suggesting Wednesday as a possible invasion day.

On Monday, Armed Forces Minister James Heappey told Forces News that Russia's military build-up along the border was a "credible force that is set to do something imminently".

Watch: PM: 'Mixed signals' from Moscow but diplomacy over Ukraine remains option.

US and other NATO allies have moved troops and military supplies towards Ukraine's western flank and promised more financial aid to the ex-Soviet nation.

Asked about the pullback, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov stressed that Moscow holds military drills "on its own territory and, according to its own plans, they start, go on and end as planned".

He added that such drills always adhered to a schedule — regardless of "who thinks what and who gets hysterical about it, who is deploying real informational terrorism".

White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said: "The path for diplomacy remains available if Russia chooses to engage constructively. However, we are clear-eyed about the prospects of that, given the steps Russia is taking on the ground in plain sight."