Belarus says Russian forces will return to base when there is objective to do so

The European Union supports the latest attempt to arrange further talks between Washington and Moscow to find a diplomatic solution for the conflict.

 A Russian service member drives a BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicle during drills held by the armed forces of the Southern Military District at the Kadamovsky range in the Rostov region, Russia February 3, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/SERGEY PIVOVAROV)
A Russian service member drives a BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicle during drills held by the armed forces of the Southern Military District at the Kadamovsky range in the Rostov region, Russia February 3, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/SERGEY PIVOVAROV)

Russian armed forces will return to their permanent bases when an "objective need" to do so arises, the Belarusian defense ministry said on Monday.

Western powers are on edge over a Russian troop buildup near Ukraine, and Belarus on Sunday that joint military drills with Russia taking place in Belarus would be extended.

The ministry said on Monday the troop withdrawal would depend to a large extent on a pullback of NATO forces from near the borders of Belarus and Russia.

The European Union supports the latest attempt to arrange further talks between Washington and Moscow to find a diplomatic solution amid the Russian military build-up on Ukraine's borders, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Monday.

"Summit meetings, at the level of leaders, at the level of ministers, whatever format, whatever way of talking and sitting at the table and trying to avoid a war, is badly needed," Borrell told reporters in Brussels ahead of a meeting of EU foreign ministers.

 State flags of Ukraine, European Union and US flutter in central Kyiv, Ukraine December 6, 2021 (credit: REUTERS/GLEB GARANICH) State flags of Ukraine, European Union and US flutter in central Kyiv, Ukraine December 6, 2021 (credit: REUTERS/GLEB GARANICH)

"We will support anything that can make diplomatic conversations the best way, the only way to look for a solution to the crisis," he added after France announced US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin had agreed in principle to a summit over Ukraine.