Updated 11:04 a.m. Moscow time
MOSCOW, October 15 (RIA Novosti) – The return of Russian troops, who took part in summer exercises in southern Russia, to their permanent bases is part of Russia's domestic policy and not a signal to anyone, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday.
"All sorts of decisions that Russia takes, including decisions on our armed forces, are the responsibility of our government and the president of the Russian Federation and are in no way related to the situation in Ukraine, although it is, of course, our major concern," Medvedev said in an interview with CNBC.
"It is not a signal to Washington. This decision is part of Russia's domestic policy. It can be construed any way you like, but it is not a signal," he said.
On October 12, Russia's Southern Military District troops started returning to their bases after participating in massive drills in the southern Rostov Region, the Defense Ministry reported Sunday. On Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to begin the withdrawal of troops. Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said a total of 17,600 troops took part in the drills.
In the past several months the Russian Armed Forces held a number of military drills in the western regions of the country. The exercises that took place close to the Ukrainian border were criticized by a number of NATO members.