As we reported in the Trends Journal, Russia had moved over 100,000 troops and artillery along its border with Ukraine, as tensions between the two nations ramped up. 
After flexing its military strength, Russia announced last week that it was moving the troops deployed to the border with Ukraine back to their home bases by 1 May, which was seen as a major de-escalation in the region.
In response to the Russian buildup, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said last Tuesday,
“Does Ukraine want war? No. Is it ready for it? Yes… Our principle is simple: Ukraine does not start a war first, but Ukraine always stands to the last man.”
In our 13 April article, “BIDEN PLEDGES ‘UNWAVERING SUPPORT’ FOR UKRAINE,” we reported that Russia claimed these forces were put into place to prevent a looming Kyiv massacre on Russian separatists in the region, a claim many international observers found laughable. 
Dmitry Kozak, a top Russian official, said Moscow could intervene to defend Russians, and he warned that any kind of escalation could lead to the destruction of Ukraine. He said the conflict might not be a “shot in the leg, but in the face.”
The move to draw back troops from the border comes one day after Putin sent a warning to Western countries to not interfere with its troop placement along the border. During Putin’s annual state-of-the-nation speech, he said the Russian response would be “asymmetric, fast, and tough.”
“I hope that no one will think of crossing the red line with Russia,” he said. “And where this line will be, in every particular case, we will determine it ourselves.”
But Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s defense minister, announced last week that military exercises have been completed, and the troops would be leaving.
“I believe that the objectives of the surprise check have been fully achieved,” he said, according to the Financial Times. “The troops have demonstrated the ability to provide reliable defense of the country. In this regard, I made a decision to complete [the exercises].”
The Wall Street Journal reported that Russia said it put together these exercises to make sure it would be able to respond to “threatening military activities” in the region by the U.S. and NATO.
Backing Down, Pressure Up
The paper pointed out Zelensky announced on Twitter that his country “welcomes any steps to decrease the military presence and de-escalate the situation in Donbass. Ukraine seeks peace. Grateful to international partners for their support.” A person close to the Ukrainian leader told the FT that the country is still watching Russia’s next move.
Russia announced Saturday it would seal off parts of the Black Sea to foreign warships, which is expected to last until 24 October. Ukraine has called the Russian announcement illegal. The move was seen by some as an effort by Russia to hurt Kyiv’s economy by putting restrictions near the Kerch Peninsula.
“This is not [an] olive branch,” Igor Korotchenko, a pro-Kremlin military expert, told the Journal. “It’s reasonable pragmatism.”
John Kirby, a spokesman for the Pentagon, said Russia has a history of taking aggressive actions against Ukrainian vessels and “impeding international maritime transit in the Black Sea.”
“This would be the latest example of its ongoing campaign to undermine and destabilized Ukraine,” he said.
TREND FORECAST: The western media no longer reports on the U.S.-backed overthrow of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014. And, it should be noted that Russia’s build-up of troops this month along Ukraine’s border was at a level even higher than when the civil war broke out in 2014. 
Elected in 2010 to succeed Viktor Yushchenko, who was championed by the U.S. when it ostensibly launched the Orange Revolution in 2004 that put him in power, Ukraine’s Central Election Commission and international observers declared that the 2010 presidential election was legitimate and fairly conducted. 
The Trends Journal has reported extensively on the events leading up to and following the overthrow of Yanukovych and the replacement government led by Petro Poroshenko. (For one such article, see Ukrainefrom March 2014.) 
During the 2014 uprising, some 97 percent of the citizens of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea voted to leave Ukraine for integration of the region into the Russian Federation. 
Waste of Tax-Payer Money
Enriching its military-industrial complex, the U.S. has provided nearly $2 billion of taxpayer money to the country in the name of foreign aid and military assistance. 
Regardless of U.S. and NATO support of Ukraine, as evidenced by Russia’s recent military buildup, should war break out in Ukraine, we forecast the Russians will not be defeated, and the Donbas region of Eastern Ukraine will move toward cession, as did Crimea, and maintain its open border arrangement with Russia.

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