Ukraine Russia
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with representatives of Crimean Tatars at the Bocharov Ruchei state residence in Sochi. Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered troops operating near the Ukraine border to "immediately" return to their home bases.

A Kremlin statement said troops participating in "planned spring" military exercises in the regions of Rostov, Belgorod and Bryansk have been told to return to their barracks.

The former KGB agent also backed round table talks which were held in Ukraine last week by Switzerland.

He also said that Ukrainian authorities should immediately end their "anti-terror" operations in the eastern Ukrainian cities of Luhansk and Donetsk against Russian speakers.

Last month, Russia initiated military drills along the shared Ukrainian border in reaction to "anti-terror" operations conducted by Ukrainian forces against pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine's eastern regions.

Russian defence minister Sergey Shoigu said that Russia had started the drills to dissuade Kiev from "violence against its own citizens".

Nato's top military chief US Air Force general Philip Breedlove has previously warned of Russia's mobilisation of approximately 40,000 troops on the Ukrainian border.

"The [Russian] force that is at the Ukrainian border now to the east is very, very sizeable and very, very ready," he said.

While Nato has criticised Russia for the mobilisation, the EU has responded to Russian moves on the border and in eastern Ukraine with sanctions - asset freezes and travel bans - for over 50 Russian individuals and companies.