Russia's defense minister on Thursday ordered troops back to their permanent bases following massive drills amid tensions with Ukraine, but said that they should leave their weapons behind in western Russia for another exercise later this year.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed the Russian pullback.

After watching the drills, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu declared the maneuvers in Crimea and wide swathes of western Russia over and ordered the military to pull the troops that took part in them back to their permanent bases.

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