UK & World News
Ukraine: Putin Orders 'Partial Withdrawal'
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a "partial withdrawal" of troops from Ukraine's eastern border in an attempt to de-escalate tensions in the region.
Mr Putin told German Chancellor Angela Merkel about his move in a phone call on Monday afternoon.
The pair also discussed "further possible steps to stabilise the situation in Ukraine and Transdniestria (a breakaway Russian-speaking region of Moldova)," said Mrs Merkel's spokesman.
Russia's annexation of Crimea in southern Ukraine has sparked the biggest crisis in relations between the East and West since the end of the Cold War.
Moscow has what Western leaders estimate are tens of thousands of troops massed near Ukraine's eastern border.
The Russian defence ministry said it was pulling back a battalion from the 15th motorised infantry brigade, but it was not clear if this was linked to a wider troop withdrawal.
There are fears Russia may try to seize more ex-Soviet states, and that Transdniestria may become the next Crimea.
On Sunday, the US announced it was giving Moldova $10m (£6.1m) to strengthen security on its border with Ukraine and Transdniestria.
Moscow claims Moldova's capital Chisinau and Ukraine's new government have blockaded Transdniestria.
A Kremlin spokesman said: "The Russian leader spoke of the need to take effective measures aimed at removing the de facto external blockade of this region and at searching for a fair and comprehensive solution to the Transdniestria issue."
Meanwhile, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has announced plans to turn Crimea into a special economic zone, during a visit to the region where he chaired a government meeting.