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Ukraine says it has evidence alleged Russian troops on its territory are withdrawing

  • Smoke rises behind Donetsk train station, not far from the Donetsk Sergey Prokofiev International Airport, during an artillery battle between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian government forces in the town of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014. Donetsk airport is the focus of much of the fighting but has no immediate tactical significance for separatist forces who are devoid of any air power. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

    Smoke rises behind Donetsk train station, not far from the Donetsk Sergey Prokofiev International Airport, during an artillery battle between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian government forces in the town of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014. Donetsk airport is the focus of much of the fighting but has no immediate tactical significance for separatist forces who are devoid of any air power. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)  (The Associated Press)

  • Smoke rises near the main terminal of Donetsk Sergey Prokofiev International Airport during an artillery battle between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian government forces in the town of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014. Donetsk airport is the focus of much of the fighting but has no immediate tactical significance for separatist forces who are devoid of any air power. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

    Smoke rises near the main terminal of Donetsk Sergey Prokofiev International Airport during an artillery battle between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian government forces in the town of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014. Donetsk airport is the focus of much of the fighting but has no immediate tactical significance for separatist forces who are devoid of any air power. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)  (The Associated Press)

Ukrainian military officials say they have observed a reduction in the presence of Russian troops in areas at the heart of fighting between government troops and separatist rebels.

Security spokesman Andriy Lysenko said Monday that Russian personnel stationed in field camps in Ukraine have been observed returning to their home bases inside Russia.

Moscow vehemently denies it has troops in Ukraine and that it provides support to separatist forces in Ukraine's largely Russian-speaking eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Lysenko's statement comes after an order by Russian President Vladimir Putin for thousands of troops posted near the Ukrainian border to return to their permanent bases.

Putin's spokesman said late Saturday that Putin had ordered approximately 17,600 troops to return home from the southern region of Rostov.