Russia’s Defense Ministry on Tuesday said it would drastically reduce military operations near the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, and the northern city of Chernihiv, “increasing mutual confidence” in a possible peace deal with Ukraine – progress in both cities has already stalled.
Recent: U.S. and British officials were skeptical of the claims. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the United States had seen a “small number” of Russian troops withdraw from Kiev, but said it was “too soon” to say whether the retreat would be significant. Russian units are being restructured and restored due to huge losses in Russia and Belarus. Intelligence upgrade Wednesday.
What they say: “We believe this is a relocation, not a real withdrawal, and we must all be prepared to see a major offensive against other parts of Ukraine,” Kirby said, particularly pointing to increased Russian activity in the eastern Donbass region.
- “Russia has failed to capture Kiev. It has failed to subdue Ukraine, but they can still inflict massive brutality on the country,” he added.
Why it matters: Russia’s announcement came after several hours of peace talks in Istanbul, which both Russian and Ukrainian negotiators classified as constructive.
Playing status: Senior U.S. Defense Officer Told reporters On Monday, Russia made no progress in its attacks on Kyiv and Chernihiv, and established “defensive positions” in some areas as Ukrainian forces launched counter-attacks.
- Russia’s top military officials said last week that Moscow’s operation was entering a “new phase” in “liberating” the Danbass region of eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists have been waging a low-level insurgency for eight years.
- Some military experts warn that Russia could use the ceasefire as an opportunity to repatriate its troops, and that it could restructure its strategy after failing to achieve many of its military objectives in the first month of war.
Large image: The Turkish foreign minister, who helped mediate the talks, said on Tuesday that the most significant progress had been made to date.
- During a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, President Biden spoke about the development: “I did not read anything until I saw what their actions were. We will see if they follow what they recommend.”
- “In the meantime, we are going to continue to have strong obstacles,” Biden said. “We will continue to provide the Ukrainian military with the capability to defend themselves. And we will continue to monitor what is happening.”
- Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a ceasefire would not be enough to lift sanctions on Russia. According to the BBC. That could be a major sticking point for the Kremlin.
What to look for: Ukraine’s delegation has made no progress on the ceasefire in Istanbul or the regional conflicts in Crimea and Donbass, but it has proposed a future security arrangement, which will now be reviewed by the Kremlin.
- Ukraine’s leading negotiator said the two sides would meet again in the next two weeks.
- Russia’s leading negotiators have said they are ready to expedite talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky.
- Zelensky has been calling for such a meeting for several weeks, but Putin has not yet agreed, nor has he publicly endorsed any peace plans.
Note: The Ukrainian side stated that its proposed security guarantees would be based on NATO’s mutual defense rule if Ukraine were to be attacked again.
- Countries including the United States, Canada, China, France, Germany, Israel, Turkey and the United Kingdom will initiate immediate diplomatic consultations and, in case of failure, take steps such as supplying weapons and maintaining a no-fly zone.
- Mykhailo Podolyak, Ukraine’s leading negotiator, said Ukraine had already received “positive responses” from some countries.
Between the lines: Countries, including the United States, will be wary of military intervention to protect Ukraine.
Editor’s note: This story and title have been updated with additional comments from US and UK authorities.
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