NATO's top military commander says the alliance would welcome the withdrawal of Russian troops from a Russian region bordering Ukraine, but that it has seen no "major movement" so far.

U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, told The Associated Press in Thessaloniki Wednesday that a withdrawal of all Russian troops was an "important part of bringing normalcy" to the area.

On Saturday Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered about 17,600 Russian troops to return to their bases from Rostov. The region in Russia borders east Ukraine, where pro-Russian insurgents have been battling government troops since April.

The Kremlin has said troops stationed there were participating in drills, but Ukraine and the West have accused Russia of fueling the insurgency with arms, expertise and fighters.