Putin says troops withdraw to help Ukraine vote

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin says he’s pulling troops out of border regions near Ukraine in order to help create a positive environment ahead of Ukraine’s presidential vote.

Speaking today in China, in comments that were broadcast on Russian TV, Putin also referred to the remarks from U.S. and NATO officials who said they weren’t seeing any sign of the Russian withdrawal. Putin said that “those who aren’t seeing it should look better.”

He said, “If the weather is good, they will see it all from space.”

Russian defense officials say military units in the regions near Ukraine should reach their home bases before June first.

But Putin is also suggesting that fighting between Ukraine’s government and separatists there will make it hard for the Kremlin to deal with Ukraine’s next leader.

He added that Russia has helped establish a dialogue between the central government in Kiev and people in the southeast, but he didn’t elaborate.

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