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AP sources: Russian troops leaving Ukraine border

ABOARD A US MILITARY AIRCRAFT (AP) -- U.S. defense officials say Russia has pulled most of its forces away from the Ukraine border, a withdrawal that the U.S. has been demanding for weeks.

They said about seven battalions remain, amounting to a couple of thousand troops. U.S. officials had estimated as many as 40,000 Russian forces had been aligned along the border with a restive eastern Ukraine that has been wracked with violence between government security forces and pro-Russian separatists.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel isn't providing any details to reporters traveling with him overseas, but he calls the withdrawal promising.

He says there still are thousands of Russian troops along the border who have not moved yet.

The defense officials spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the precise numbers.

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