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Russian President Putin pulls back troops from border with Ukraine

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Russian President Putin pulls back troops from border with Ukraine

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered his troops to retreat from the border with Ukraine.

Around 17,000 soldiers had been carrying out exercises in the Rostov region. They will now return to their permanent bases.

The move comes ahead of a planned meeting between Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Milan next Friday.

Poroshenko has said he hopes the two will make “significant progress” in gas talks next week.

“I hope there’s going to be a big progress on 17 of October, next Friday in Milan. Amongst other questions we’ll talk about the peace plan and the ceasefire process,” Poroshenko said.

The Ukrainian president has meanwhile accepted the resignation of his defence minister Valery Heletey.

His press office said it was “time to change the defence ministry’s top official”.

Heletey had been criticized following a battle in which more than 100 Ukrainian soldiers were trapped by Russian-backed separatists and killed in Donetsk.