Vladimir Putin has made key statements regarding the current situation in Ukraine that may help ease tensions in the country.
Putin announced the withdrawal of Russian troops from the Ukrainian border, a move orchestrated as a response to concerns over what could become violent conflict in the region. Although the troops were technically removed from the border, they still remain largely present in nearby areas.
“We’re always being told that our forces on the Ukrainian border are a concern. We have withdrawn them. Today they are not on the Ukrainian border, they are in places where they conduct their regular tasks on training grounds,” said Putin, according to Newser.
According to Reuters, Putin also called for a planned secession vote by pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine to be postponed.
“We call on the representatives of southeastern Ukraine, the supporters of the federalization of the country, to postpone the referendum planned for May 11,” Putin said.
The Russian President claimed that he wanted to ensure a dialogue could occur between officials in Kiev and the pro-Moscow separatists before any further action takes place.
Separatists groups, occupying what some have dubbed the “People’s Republic of Donetsk,” had planned to vote on sectoring off a largely Russian area in the eastern half of Ukraine. One separatist leader, Denis Pushilin, acknowledged the suggestion.
"We have the utmost respect for President Putin. If he considers that necessary, we will of course discuss it," Pushilin said.
Ukraine also has its own elections planned in coming weeks, with a presidential election scheduled for May 25, 2014. Whether or not any of the elections will go forward as planned remains to be seen, but Putin’s remarks signify an important easing of tensions in a country with an uncertain future.