Peace negotiations between Ukraine and Russia were held in Turkey yesterday in which both Kyiv and Moscow appeared to compromise on previous red lines. Ukraine even proposed a new security guarantee which could lead the ex-Soviet state into accepting neutral status, provided the Kremlin agreed to withdraw Russian troops.
Moscow’s Deputy Defence Minister Alexander Fomin even said Russia would “radically, by several times reduce the military activity” around Kyiv and Chernihiv.
His Ukrainian counterpart Oleksandr Chaly told reporters the offer of neutrality was a chance to “restore the territorial integrity and security of Ukraine through diplomatic and political means”.
It is believed this would enable Ukraine to join the European Union but prevent its ascension into NATO.
Speaking in a recent video after Istanbul peace talks hinted at possible progress in negotiations, Mr Zelensky appeared to express concern about the Russian offer.
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According to the BBC, he said: “Ukrainians are not naive people.
“We can say that the signals… are positive, but those signals do not drown out the explosions or Russian shells.”
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby also confirmed Washington is starting to see troops move away from the Ukrainian capital.
He said: “We’ve only seen a small number begin to move away from Kyiv.”
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Kirby then added people should be “prepared to watch for a major offensive against other areas of Ukraine”.
In an update on Ukraine, the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MOD) said: “Repeated Russian setbacks and successful counter-attacks by Ukrainian forces mean it is almost certain that the Russian offensive has failed in its objective to encircle Kyiv.
“Russian statements regarding a reduction in activity around Kyiv, and reporting indicating the withdrawal of some Russian units from these areas, may indicate Russia’s acceptance that it has now lost the initiative in the region.
“It is highly likely that Russia will seek to divert combat power from the north to their offensive in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the east.”
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A later MOD update added: “Russian units suffering heavy losses have been forced to return to Belarus and Russia to reorganise and resupply.
“Such activity is placing further pressure on Russia’s already strained logistics and demonstrates the difficulties Russia is having reorganising its units in forward areas within Ukraine.
“Russia will likely continue to compensate for its reduced ground manoeuvre capability through mass artillery and missile strikes.
“Russia’s stated focus 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.”