On Tuesday, Russia announced it would “drastically reduce” military combat operations in Ukraine’s two main regions “to increase mutual trust” in peace talks. The decision to scale back operations around the capital Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv is the first sign of real progress.
However, speaking on BBC Newsnight, Victoria Nuland, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, commented that Russia removing troops from Kyiv did not help the negotiations.
He said: “We have seen Russia make peace claims again and again and do things differently.
“So now we are seeing some of their troops moving out of the area around Kyiv and out of Chernihiv.
“We see this as more of a reposition than a withdrawal.
“We fully expect them to use this force again elsewhere in Ukraine, but we will obviously be watching very closely.”
President Volodymyr Zelensky, however, said he saw no reason to believe the words of some Russian representatives.
In a video, Zelensky said: “We can say that the signals … are positive, but they don’t dampen Russian explosions or shells.”
When asked if Russia would withdraw its troops, Nuland said: “Of course not— [pulling back].
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“They are also all over southern and eastern Ukraine and they continue to pound Mariupol, they continue to pound Kershaw and all those cities in a very inhumane way.”
A spokesman for Boris Johnson told The Guardian that Britain had seen signs of “some reduction” in the Russian bombing around Kyiv, but added: “We will judge Putin and his regime by his actions, not by his words… We do not would like to see something less than a complete withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian territory.”
The UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) said in its latest update that it was “almost certain that the Russian offensive had failed in its objective of encircling Kyiv”.
British defense attache Mick Smeath said in a statement: “Russia’s statements regarding a reduction in activity around Kyiv, and reporting indicating the withdrawal of some Russian units from this area, could demonstrate Russia’s acceptance that they have now lost their initiative in the region.”
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