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Lavrov calls for 'de-escalation of rhetoric' over Ukraine

Russian troops near the Ukrainian border will return to its permanent bases after completing its military exercises, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said, calling for a "de-escalation" of rhetoric.

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Nato: No evidence of Russia withdrawing troops

Nato's secretary general said he has seen no evidence that Russia is withdrawing its forces from the border with eastern Ukraine as promised.

Members of the Ukrainian far-right radical group Right Sector leave their headquarters as police special forces stand guard in Kiev today Credit: Reuters

"Unfortunately, I cannot confirm that Russia is withdrawing its troops," Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters today ahead of a meeting of Nato foreign ministers in Brussels. "This is not what we are seeing."

Rasmussen said Russia had undermined the principles on which a Nato-Russia partnership had been built, and that as a result there could be no more "business as usual".

Russia responded by warning Ukraine against integration with the defence alliance.

"(Past attempts) led to a freezing of Russian-Ukrainian political contacts, a headache between Nato and Russia and ... to a division in Ukrainian society," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

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