WASHINGTON, May 30 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel commented on Russian troop presence along the border with Ukraine on Friday.
Speaking aboard a U.S. military aircraft en route to Singapore, the secretary was quoted by Ukrainian state media as acknowledging the withdrawal of "thousands of Russian troops" from the border region.
"But we also know that there are still thousands of Russian troops still there that have not yet moved." Those Russian troops, he said, are not "where they need to be and won't be until all their troops that they positioned along that border a couple of months ago are gone."
Earlier in the week, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren observed, "We have seen a continued repositioning of Russian forces away from the border. ... This is encouraging and we hope they continue to do so."
Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a statement on May 19 that he had ordered Russian troops to pull back from the Ukrainian border.