Russia on Tuesday said that it was pulling back some of its troops from the Ukraine border, in what is being a sign of deescalation, Reuters reported.

In a statement, the Russian defence ministry said that some of its troops were returning back to their bases after conducting exercises in military districts bordering Ukraine.

“As combat training measures are coming to a close, the troops, as is always the case, will conduct combined marches to their permanent garrisons,” the statement said, according to Reuters.

Demonstrators carry placards during a rally in Kyiv on February 12 held to show unity amid US warnings of Russian invasion. | Sergei Supinsky/AFP

Since early this year, Russia has amassed close to 1.3 lakh troops at the Ukrainian border. The two countries have been engaged in a conflict since 2014 when Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and backed separatist rebellions in the country’s eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that Russia had always maintained that the troops will return. “This is the case this time as well,” Peskov said, according to Reuters.

He also accused the United States of America of fueling the tensions by repeatedly warning of an invasion on Ukraine.

Ukraine, however, said that it would believe Russia was moving towards de-escalation only after the troops are indeed pulled back.

“If we see a withdrawal, we will believe in deescalation,” Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said, according to Reuters.

On Monday, the United States had warned that Russia could invade Ukraine “at any time” and might create a surprise pretext for an attack.

“We cannot perfectly predict the day, but we have now been saying for some time that we are in the window,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan had said.

On February 12, United States President Joe Biden had told Russian President Vladimir Putin that Washington and its allies would “respond decisively” if the Kremlin attacked Ukraine. Biden had also ordered most of its diplomats and other staff members to leave the American Embassy in Ukraine.