Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron that Moscow will withdraw its troops from Belarus at the end of joint exercises, due to finish later this month, the Financial Times has reported.
Citing unnamed officials in France, the British newspaper announced that, during the course of their five-hour meeting in the Kremlin on Monday, Putin told Macron that Russian soldiers currently in Belarus as part of the ‘Union Resolve 2022’ drills would not stick around after the practice is complete.
The joint exercises, due to last until February 20, also coincide with a reported buildup of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border. Moscow stands accused of placing more than 100,000 soldiers on the frontier, with some believing this is a sign of an impending military incursion. This claim has repeatedly been denied by the Kremlin, and it has also been played down by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The Belarusian border is less than 200km north of Kiev.