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Putin orders troops back to base

Moscow - Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered troops that took part in military exercises in central and western Russia to return to base after completing their training, Russian news agencies quoted the Kremlin spokesman as saying on Tuesday.

Moscow had denied that the exercises, which began last week, had anything to do with events in Ukraine, where Putin has said he has the right to deploy troops to protect Russian compatriots.

Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a news conference at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow March 4, 2014. Putin said on Tuesday Russia reserved the right to use all options in Ukraine to protect compatriots living in "terror" but that Moscow would use force only as a last resort. Credit: Reuters

The exercises ended on schedule.

The Russian leader watched the final day of the exercises on Monday, showing no sign of concern at warnings from western powers that Russia could face sanctions for taking control of Ukraine's southern Crimea region.

“The supreme commander of the armed forces of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, gave the order for the troops and units, taking part in the military exercises, to return to their bases,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying.

Peskov said the exercises had been a success.

There was no word on movement of Russian forces in Crimea. - Reuters

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