Kiev/Kyiv: The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces says the Russian withdrawal pledge is designed to mislead, BBC reported.
In a daily operational update posted to Facebook, the general staff said the Russian units were continuing to move away from both Kyiv and Chernihiv. Russia has already said it will now focus on operations in the eastern Donbas region.
Ukraine’s military believes the withdrawals “are probably a rotation of individual units” aimed at misleading Ukraine’s military leadership and creating a “misconception” about the meaning of their deployment, BBC reported.
The update echoes statements made by Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, who said the threat to Kyiv remained despite Russian troop movements away from the city.
Additionally, the update noted that the enemy continued to “fire and storm” near Donetsk, in the east.
“Ukrainians aren’t naive”, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said, reacting to Russia’s promise that it would scale down military operations around Kyiv and Chernihiv.
The pledge came after peace talks began on Tuesday between Russia and Ukraine in Istanbul.
But a sceptical Zelensky said that while initial signs from the talks were “positive”, they do not “drown out” the explosions of Russian shells. Other countries also reacted with caution.
US President Joe Biden said, “I don’t read anything into it until I see what their actions are.” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said there was a difference between what Russia says and does.
Leaders from the UK, France, Germany and Italy too have urged the West not to drop its guard against Russia.
“They agreed there could be no relaxation of Western resolve until the horror inflicted on Ukraine is over,” they said, according to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office, BBC reported.