Russia ordered its troops amassing at the border with Ukraine to pull back on Thursday, dialling down fears of an imminent invasion that threatened to draw the West into conflict with Vladimir Putin. An estimated 100,000 Russian troops had moved to the border with Ukraine and into the Russia-occupied Crimean peninsula, something that the region has not seen since major hostilities in eastern Ukraine in 2014-2015. After weeks of tensions, prompting a phone call between Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden, Russia's defence minister on Thursday said on that most of the troops would be withdrawn immediately as the goals of what he described as a readiness exercise “have been fully achieved”. “The troops have shown their capacity to provide a solid defence for our country,” Sergey Shoygu, defence minister, said in televised remarks after inspecting training grounds in Crimea where a heightened military presence raised a particular concern in the West. Analysts said the build-up of forces may have been a show of strength by Mr Putin designed to rile the West and distract from the plight of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, languishing in prison on hunger strike.