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STRASBOURG: The European Union on Wednesday urged Russia to take "concrete" steps to ease tensions around Ukraine, as Moscow said it was pulling back more forces from the border.

"Russia has signalled that it may be open to diplomacy and we urge Russia to take concrete and tangible steps towards de-escalation because this is the condition for sincere political dialogue," European Council head Charles Michel told EU lawmakers.

"We cannot eternally attempt diplomacy on one side, while the other side is amassing troops."

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said "NATO has not yet seen signs of any Russian troop reduction" despite announcements from the Kremlin that it was withdrawing forces.

Russia announces end of Crimea military drills, troops leaving

"We saw signs of hope yesterday, but now deeds have to follow those words," she said.

She accused Moscow of sending "conflicting signals" by announcing pullbacks the same day the Russian parliament voted to have President Vladimir Putin recognise two separatist regions in Ukraine as independent.

"We now have two distinct futures ahead of us. In one, the Kremlin decides to wage war against Ukraine with massive human costs," she said.

"But another future is possible, a future in which Russia and Europe could operate on their shared interests."

The West has warned Moscow of "massive" sanctions if its does invade Ukraine again, eight years after seizing the Crimea peninsula.

UK has not seen evidence of Russian withdrawal from Ukraine's border

Von der Leyen said the EU could survive Russia's squeeze on the supply of gas to Europe and get through the winter thanks to an unprecedented diversification of sources in the past weeks.

"At a time of high demand, Gazprom is restricting its gas supplies to Europe. A 10-year low in storage, no sales on the spot market. This behaviour has already damaged Russia's credibility as a reliable energy supplier," she said.

She announced that the EU had managed to secure "record deliveries" of 10 billion cubic metres of liquefied natural gas in January after talks with a number of countries.

"During the last weeks, we have looked into all possible disruption scenarios in case Russia decides to partially or completely disrupt gas supplies to the EU," she said.

"I can say today that our models show, with all the measures we have taken, that we are now on the safe side for this winter."

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