At a ceremony marking the end of the CSTO mission, soldiers lined up as anthems from each of the six CSTO member countries were played before official speeches began.
A Russian invasion of Ukraine did not materialise on Wednesday, as originally feared. But after a handful of positive signals from Moscow that eased tensions earlier in the week, the pendulum appeared to swing in the opposite direction again.
The Palestinian health ministry and Israel's border police both confirmed three deaths. The border police said the dead were "armed terrorists who were... killed during clashes with the security forces".
Russian president orders the Russian defence minister and the chief of the military’s General Staff to put the nuclear deterrent forces in a "special regime of combat duty.”
Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, sought to project calm, telling the country: "We are not afraid of anyone or anything. We don’t owe anyone anything. And we won’t give anything to anyone.”
There also were growing signs that Russia may be seeking to overthrow Ukraine’s government, which US officials have described as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ultimate objective.
Russian forces have repeatedly launched attacks against Bakhmut and nearby Avdiivka in the Donetsk region but are being pushed back with what Kyiv says are heavy losses.
Volleys of incoming and outgoing artillery fire continued to blast around Kherson's international airport and the police said they were setting up checkpoints in and around the city and sweeping for mines left behind by the Russians.
News of the drawdown came just after Ukrainian special forces published images on social media showing camouflage-clad officers with automatic weapons "in Kupiansk", a town of about 27,000 people.