Chris Lange, FISM News
Talks between Ukraine and Russia are set to resume Friday by video, but faith that a resolution to the ongoing war will be forthcoming is dwindling by the hour. Moscow continues to renege on its promise to “increase mutual trust and create conditions for further negotiations” by scaling back its military operations near Kyiv, where Russian forces continue launching multiple strikes.
Since Tuesday, the northern city of Chernihiv has come under intense shelling, targeting homes, libraries, stores and other civilian sites according to an Associated Press report. Chernihiv city councilman Olexander Lomako said Moscow’s announcement that it would pull back troops was clearly a “complete lie.”
“At night they didn’t decrease, but vice versa increased the intensity of military action,” Lomako said.
Ukrainian officials also say Kremlin forces are stepping up attacks in the Donbas region in the east after redeploying units from other areas.
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby on Wednesday said early assessments indicate that Moscow has repositioned “probably in the neighborhood of 20 percent” of battalion tactical groups that had been positioned around Kyiv, sending some into Belarus. Despite the movement, Kirby said the fact that none of the troops are being sent back to their home garrison is “not a small point.”
“If the Russians are serious about de-escalating, because that’s their claim here, then they should send them home, but they’re not doing that, at least not yet,” Kirby said at a press briefing, adding that a majority of forces still remain at the capitol, though they have largely transitioned to “defensive positions.”
“But the airstrikes have not stopped, not at all. So Kyiv, as I said yesterday, is still very much under threat,” Kirby added.
When asked about US intelligence reports suggesting that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been misled by his officers about the success and impact of the war, Kirby said he would not reveal intelligence but added that the Pentagon “would concur with the conclusion that — that Mr. Putin has — has not been fully informed by his ministry of defense at every turn over the last month.”
Intelligence reports reveal Russian officials withholding information from Putin
In a separate Wednesday briefing, White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield told reporters the administration has information that Putin “felt misled by the Russian military, which has resulted in persistent tension between Putin and his military leadership.”
“We believe that Putin is being misinformed by his advisors about how badly the Russian military is performing and how the Russian economy is being crippled by sanctions because his senior advisors are too afraid to tell him the truth. So it is increasingly clear that Putin’s war has been a strategic blunder that has left Russia weaker over the long term and increasingly isolated on the world stage,” Bedington said.