Russia on Wednesday said that military drills in Crimea has ended and the troops there were returning to their permanent deployment points, reported Agence France-Presse.

The statement came a day after the Russian defence ministry announced that it was pulling back some of its troops from the Ukraine border, in what is being seen as a sign of deescalation.

Since early this year, Russia has amassed over 1 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.

On Wednesday, the defence ministry posted video footage showing tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and artillery units leaving the Crimean peninsula that Moscow had seized from Ukraine in 2014.

“Combat equipment and military personnel will be delivered by military trains to the units’ permanent deployment points,” the defence ministry said, reported Reuters. “Upon arrival, the equipment will be serviced and prepared for carrying out the next phase of combat training.”

Attack on Ukraine still very possible: Joe Biden

Hours after Russia’s announced it was pulling back troops on Tuesday, the United States expressed skepticism on the move.

US President Joe Biden on Tuesday said that an attack on Ukraine by Russia was still very likely. “An invasion remains distinctly possible,” he said in a televised speech.

Biden said that reports of Russia pulling back troops were still unverified. “Our analysts indicate that they remain very much in a threatening position,” he said.

A Russian tanks leaving for Russia after joint exercises of the armed forces of Russia and Belarus as part of an inspection of the Union State's Response Force, at a firing range near Brest. | Russian Defence Ministry / AFP

During Tuesday’s speech, Biden mentioned that Russia had more than 150,000 troops encircling Ukraine in Belarus and along Ukraine’s border.

“Invading Ukraine will prove to be a self-inflicted wound,” Biden said. “The United States and our Allies and partners will respond decisively. The West is united and galvanised.”

“World War II was a war of necessity. But if Russia attacks Ukraine, it would be a war of choice, or a war without cause or reason,” Biden added.

Earlier on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin had said that Moscow did not want a war in Europe. He made the remarks while addressing a joint conference with Germany Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

“We are ready to work further together. We are ready to go down the negotiations track,” Putin said, according to Agence France-Presse.

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

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

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz give a joint press conference following their meeting over Ukraine security at the Kremlin, in Moscow, on February 15, 2022. | Sergei Guneyev/ Sputnik/ AFP