Since last Wednesday over 150,000 Russian troops were sent to western Russia for military exercises along with 90 aircraft and 80 warships in a military buildup that raised global concerns Russia was on the verge of invading eastern Ukraine where there are large populations of ethnic Russians and a newly formed pro-Western government in Kiev that Moscow does not recognize.
The Russian troops along the Ukrainian border were scheduled to be sent home today.
Yesterday the final phase of the military exercises was witnessed by Russian President Putin before he ordered his troops to be sent home on Tuesday.
Over the week-end, 16,000 Russian troops invaded and seized control of Crimea, an autonomous region in southern Ukraine that has a majority population of ethnic Russians and a leased Russian naval base.
The Russian invasion of Crimea sparked condemnation from the United States and Europe. It also sent the Russian stock market lower on Monday over 10 percent and caused Russia’s central bank to raise their primary interest rate by 1.5 percent after the Russian ruble plunged to near record lows.
Secretary of State John Kerry plans to arrive in Kiev on Tuesday to show U.S. support for Ukraine after he warned Russia on Sunday that invading Crimea could lead to real economic costs for the country and is violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty.
On Tuesday Russian troops who gained control of the Belbek air base in Crimea over the week-end, fired some warning shots into the air after 300 unarmed Ukrainian soldiers attempted to return to their air base.