Hagel: US 'Can't Confirm' Russia's Ukraine Withdrawal

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U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is downplaying recent reports that Russian troops are pulling away from Ukraine's border.

Russian news agencies have claimed a battalion of 500 troops are backing down.

But in a Monday news conference, Hagel told reporters, "I cannot confirm one way or the other whether the Russians are pulling troops back from the Ukrainian-Russian border."

"As you know, President Obama made it very clear to President Putin in their conversation that that is going to be required, necessary, in order for us to have any further meaningful conversation about how we resolve and de-escalate this crisis," Hagel said.

Meanwhile, Russia has hiked the price on natural gas supplies sent to Ukraine.

That move puts yet another squeeze on Ukraine's cash-strapped government.

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