Vladimir Putin has said that “of course” Russia does not want war in Europe, but that his security concerns must be addressed and taken seriously.
The Russian president’s comments came as the military said that some troops were withdrawing from the border near Ukraine – the first sign from Moscow of a possible de-escalation of tensions.
However Western leaders say there is no evidence of the withdrawal yet.
Russia’s sudden military build-up prompted fears it would invade Ukraine.
Mr Putin has always denied he is planning an incursion, but tensions have been rising since November, when Russian troops started massing near the border with Ukraine.
Russia has deep cultural and historic ties with Ukraine, which is a former Soviet republic. Mr Putin wants assurances that it will not join the Western Nato military alliance because he sees any expansion of it as a threat to Russia. Nato has rejected that demand.