According to Russian media, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu instructed the commanders to begin withdrawing troops deployed on the border with Ukraine and in the occupied Crimean Peninsula.
Speaking during snap readiness exercises in occupied Crimea, Shoigu ordered the general staff of the armed forces, military chiefs and the airborne troops to begin returning to their home bases from the Russian-Ukrainian border and Crimea starting April 23.
“I believe that the goals of the snap inspection have been fully achieved,” Interfax quoted Shoigu as saying. “The troops demonstrated the ability to reliably defend the country.”
“In this regard, I have decided to complete the Southern and Western military district reviews,” he added.
Shoigu ordered ground forces to return to their bases in Vladikavkaz and Novosibirsk, as well as airborne units to Pskov, Ivanovo and the Krasnodar region, by May 1.
The minister ordered military chiefs to “analyze the snap inspections in all levels of management and draw up a plan to eliminate shortcomings,” according to Interfax.
Facing accusations of massing more than 100,000 troops in the region, Russia’s military said it had blocked flights and closed off navigation in parts of the Black Sea and Crimea for drills.
It previously announced some 4,000 maneuvers across Russia’s 11 timezones for so-called “winter period control checks” throughout the month of April.
Analysts have cast doubt on theories that Russia was planning a covert invasion of Ukraine with its visible deployment of units, which include warships, modern armor and attack aircraft.
Some observers have characterized Russia’s moves as military posturing, with the Kremlin signaling its escalation capabilities to the new Biden administration while the United States seeks predictable relations with Russia and Ukraine lobbies for more Western support.