By Sara Gómez Armas
Kyiv, Apr 1 (EFE).- Russian troops are withdrawing from areas around Kyiv and the northern region of Chernihiv but communities on the outskirts of the capital, close to the front lines neither feel safe nor have much confidence in peace talks that resumed via video conference Friday.
The Russian army has “partially” withdrawn from the Kyiv Oblast and returning toward the border with Belarus due to heavy losses and its failure to blockade and capture the capital,” the general staff of the Ukrainian armed forces said in a statement, adding that invading troops would concentrate their efforts on regions of eastern and southern Ukraine.
Ukrainian authorities recaptured a number of towns and settlements to the northwest of Kyiv but said Russian servicemen remain present in the strategically significant cities of Bucha and Hostomel. Kyiv officials asked displaced residents not to return to those cities, both on the outskirts of the capital, amid fears Russian troops had planted mines and poisoned water systems.
The feeling among Kyivites, however, is one of skepticism and a reluctance to take Russia’s claims at face value, as well as a lack of confidence that real progress will be made in renewed peace talks between Russia and Ukraine.
“I don’t know if they are leaving. At the moment they are regrouping, we’ll soon see if they go to the Donbas, Mariupol or if they come back to Kyiv,” says Viktor, who preferred not to give his surname.
The 37-year-old Kyiv native believes Russia is using the peace negotiations as a way to buy time rather than secure a ceasefire.
In the settlement of Sofiivska Borschahivka, situated halfway between Kyiv city center and Russian-occupied territory, a Russian missile strike that killed one civilian three days ago is still fresh on the minds of local residents.
Russian troops made it as far as 10 kilometers from the village and while they have since been pushed back by 15 kilometers, their artillery fire remains a constant threat.
“Right now I don’t believe we are safe anywhere nor that the peace negotiations will secure a ceasefire soon,” Vladislav, a local who also preferred not to give his surname, tells Efe as he casts his eye across a street whose houses have been barricaded with wooden panels.
The rocket hit the sleepy, middle-class residential area just after midnight while Vladislav tuned in to watch Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy give his daily address on TV.
A large crater outside Vladislav’s front door acts as a reminder of the missile strike, which pockmarked his house, blew the building’s windows out and overturned cars parked outside.
Vladislav’s neighbor Vadim Volderiv, 55, said: “That night was horrific. The explosion knocked me out of bed and I hit my face.”
Neither of the men plan to leave the village, despite the circumstances.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Vadim says. EFE