Ukraine war: Russia says it will curb Kyiv assault as peace talks progress

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Russia has announced it will “drastically reduce” military combat operations in two key areas of Ukraine “to boost mutual trust” in peace talks.

The decision to scale back operations around the capital, Kyiv, and the northern city of Chernihiv is the first sign of tangible progress from talks.

But it is unclear how extensive any reduction in military activity might be, and Ukraine remains sceptical.

The US and UK also said the pledge should be treated with caution.

On Tuesday, Russia’s deputy defence minister, Alexander Fomin, said the country would “radically, by several times reduce the military activity” around Kyiv and Chernihiv.

He added that there had been progress on “the neutrality and non-nuclear status” of Ukraine, which are two key concerns for Moscow.

But Russia’s pledge to scale back its forces was met with scepticism. “Ukrainians are not naive people,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an overnight video address.

“We can say that the signals… are positive, but those signals do not drown out the explosions or Russian shells,” he added.

“We’ve only seen a small number begin to move away from Kyiv,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said, adding that people should be “prepared to watch for a major offensive against other areas of Ukraine”.

The UK Defence Ministry also warned that Russia will likely “seek to divert combat power from the north to their offensive in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the east”.

Russia has already refocused its campaign on Ukraine’s eastern regions. It has suffered a series of setbacks to the north of the capital, Kyiv, and is also seeking to capture a land corridor which stretches along the south coast to the Russian border.

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