The Russians do not appear to be reducing military operations in Ukraine as announced, but they are instead redeploying their forces to the Donbas region in the country's east, according to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
Russia on Tuesday announced during talks in Turkey's Istanbul that it would de-escalate operations near Kyiv and Chernihiv to “increase mutual trust and create conditions for further negotiations”. Despite the announcement, the Ukrainian government as well as Western countries remained skeptical of any scaling back by Russians.
This skepticism increased as within hours of the announcement, Ukrainian officials reported Russian shelling hitting homes, stores, libraries, and other civilian sites in and around Chernihiv and on the outskirts of Kyiv.
Earlier, Outlook's Seema Guha had written, "Going by the Russian defence ministry’s statement, Moscow wanted to make sure that Ukraine’s military capabilities were destroyed. Then Russia would go on to the main task of liberating the entire Donbas region. Consolidation of Russian hold on the Donbas region now appears to be the primary gaol of the war."
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday that “Russia has repeatedly lied about its intentions” and must be judged on its actions alone, not the word of its leaders.
He aded, “According to our intelligence, Russian units are not withdrawing but repositioning. Russia is trying to regroup, resupply and reinforce its offensive in the Donbas region."
At the same time, he said pressure is being kept up on Kyiv and other cities and “we can expect additional offensive actions bringing even more suffering”.
The US said Russia has begun to reposition less than 20 per cent of its troops that had been arrayed around Kyiv. The Pentagon has said that most moved north, although some crossed into Belarus where they could be resupplied and sent back into Ukraine.
With AP inputs