(CNN) March 28,2014 — Russia could ease tensions with Ukraine if it were to move its troops away from its border with Ukraine and begin direct talks with the Kiev government, U.S. President Barack Obama said in an interview aired Friday by CBS News.
“You’ve seen a range of troops massing along that border under the guise of military exercises, but these are not what Russia would normally be doing,” the President said. “It may simply be an effort to intimidate Ukraine, or it may be that they’ve got additional plans.
“And, in either case, what we need right now to resolve and de-escalate the situation would be for Russia to move back those troops and to begin negotiations directly with the Ukrainian government as well as the international community.”
Russia may have 40,000 troops near its border with Ukraine, two U.S. officials told CNN on Thursday. The officials said that this estimate was largely based on satellite imagery and that a firm number is difficult to assess.