Ukraine doubts Russia’s troop withdrawal claims as shelling continues
Lviv, Ukraine, Mar 30 (EFE).- Ukrainian authorities said Wednesday that it is too early to verify Russia’s claims that it was reducing its military activity around Kyiv and Chernihiv and redeploying resources to the eastern Donbas region.
Russia’s defense ministry made the announcement on Tuesday “to build trust” as a new round of peace talks was being held in Istanbul.
But the Ukrainian interior ministry said that shelling in the capital Kyiv and Chernihiv, both in northern Ukraine, continued on Wednesday, while air raid sirens were heard across the country overnight, casting doubt on Moscow’s claims.
“Unfortunately, there is no way to say that the Russians are reducing the intensity of hostilities in Kyiv and Chernihiv directions,” Vadym Denysenko, an advisor to the interior minister, said, according to Interfax Ukraine.
Earlier on Wednesday, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said that rather than a “withdrawal”, the movement of Russian troops could be more of a rotation of resources intended to deceive the Ukrainian military leadership while peace negotiations are ongoing.
The United States said that Russia’s claims of troop withdrawal should be viewed with caution and warned that Moscow had no intention of ending the conflict.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was in Rabat on Tuesday, said Moscow could be trying to “deceive people and deflect attention”.
“There is what Russia says and there is what Russia does, and we’re focused on the latter,” Blinken said during his visit to Morocco. “And what Russia is doing is the continued brutalization of Ukraine.”
British military intelligence, meanwhile, said Wednesday that Russian units that have suffered “heavy losses” are returning to Belarus and Russia to “reorganize and resupply.”
Russia is likely to continue to compensate for its reduced capability to maneuver on the ground with mass artillery and missile strikes, according to the UK defense ministry.
Russia’s statement that it is focusing on an offensive in Donetsk and Luhansk “is likely a tacit admission that it is struggling to sustain more than one significant axis of advance,” the report said. EFE