Ukraine isn’t naive, Zelenskiy says after Russian pledge to scale down attack on Kyiv
Russia has started moving very small numbers of troops away from positions around Kyiv in a move that is more of a repositioning than a retreat
LVIV — Ukraine reacted with skepticism to Russia’s promise in negotiations to scale down military operations around Kyiv and another city as some Western countries expected Moscow to intensify its offensive in other parts of the country.
Talks took place in an Istanbul palace more than a month into the largest attack on a European nation since World War Two that has killed or injured thousands, forced nearly 4 million to flee abroad and pummeled Russia’s economy with sanctions.
The invasion has been halted on most fronts by stiff resistance from Ukrainian forces who have recaptured territory even as civilians are trapped in besieged cities. “In order to increase mutual trust and create the necessary conditions for further negotiations and achieving the ultimate goal of agreeing and signing (an) agreement, a decision was made to radically, by a large margin, reduce military activity in the Kyiv and Chernihiv directions,” Russian Deputy Defence Minister Alexander Fomin told reporters.
He made no mention of other areas that have seen heavy fighting, including around Mariupol in the southeast, Sumy and Kharkiv in the east and Kherson and Mykolaiv in the south.
“Ukrainians are not naive people,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said late on Tuesday.
“Ukrainians have already learned during these 34 days of invasion, and over the past eight years of the war in Donbass, that the only thing they can trust is a concrete result.”
MAJOR OFFENSIVE POSSIBLE
Russia has started moving very small numbers of troops away from positions around Kyiv in a move that is more of a repositioning than a retreat or a withdrawal from the war, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.
“We all should be prepared to watch for a major offensive against other areas of Ukraine,” spokesman John Kirby told a news briefing. “It does not mean that the threat to Kyiv is over.”
Britain’s Ministry of Defence in an intelligence update said: “It is highly likely that Russia will seek to divert combat power from the north to their offensive in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the east.”
Reuters could not immediately verify the claims made by either side.
The Moscow-backed self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine may consider joining Russia once it controls all of Ukraine’s Donetsk region, its leader was quoted as saying. Kyiv has said any such move would have no legal basis.
Russia calls its assault a “special operation” to disarm and “denazify” Ukraine. The West says it launched an unprovoked invasion.
In Ukraine’s besieged seaport Mariupol, thousands of civilians may have died, the head of the United Nations human rights mission in the country told Reuters on Tuesday.