Thousands of Russian troops withdrawing from Ukraine border: report

Thousands of Russian troops are reportedly withdrawing from the Ukrainian border after conducting drills for roughly a month.

Reuters reported on Saturday that more than 10,000 Russian troops were leaving a number of regions near Ukraine - including Crimea, Rostov and Kuban - and returning to permanent bases.

The news service pointed to reporting from the Interfax news agency, which cited the Russian military.

"A stage of combat coordination of divisions, combat crews, squads at motorized units... has been completed. More than 10,000 military servicemen... will march to their permanent deployment from the territory of the combined arms' area of drills," the Russian army is quoted as saying in the Interfax report, according to Reuters.

Russia had amassed tens of thousands of troops in regions north, east and south of Ukraine, Reuters noted, which alarmed Kyiv and Western nations that Moscow may be planning an attack.

U.S. intelligence earlier this year revealed that Russia was planning a military offensive against Ukraine as early as next year that would involve the deployment of 175,000 troops near the border.

The intelligence document, which was obtained by The Washington Post, included satellite photos of the military buildup.

Russia, however, has denied having any plans of that kind. Instead, Moscow has called on NATO to promise that it will not extend the alliance in the direction of Russia's borders, according to Reuters.

Russia has reportedly said that Ukraine's increased association with NATO is presenting a threat to Moscow.

The Kremlin has also said it has the authority to deploy troops within its borders as it sees necessary, according to Reuters.

Reports of Russian troops withdrawing from the Ukrainian border come more than two weeks after President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by phone for more than two hours.

The White House said Biden during the conversation warned Putin against invading Ukraine, cautioning that Moscow would suffer economic consequences if it mobilized an offensive against Ukraine.

Biden also reportedly presented the option of de-escalating the situation through diplomatic channels with the U.S. and other European nations.

Updated 12/26/2021 at 6:30 a.m.