- The Pentagon said it is skeptical of Russia’s claim that it’s withdrawing troops around Kyiv.
- Press Secretary John Kirby said there has been a small amount of Russian troop movement.
- Russia’s defense ministry said earlier it would reduce its military assaults on Kyiv and Chernihiv
The United States is remaining skeptical of Russia’s claims that it would scale back assaults on Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said on Tuesday.
“The rapid advance to Kyiv in the initial days of the war showed very clearly for all of us that Kyiv and the capital city was a key objective for the Russians,” Kirby told reporters during a briefing.
He added: “So we ought not be fooling, and nobody should be fooling ourselves, by the Kremlin’s now-recent claim that it will suddenly just reduce military attacks near Kyiv, or any reports that it’s gonna withdraw all its forces.”
Russia’s Defense Ministry announced on Tuesday that it would reduce its military assaults on Kyiv and Chernihiv amid a fresh round of peace negotiations with Ukraine in Istanbul.
But Kirby said the Pentagon has seen some Russian troop movement away from Kyiv, though only in small numbers.
“We believe that this is a repositioning, not a real withdrawal, and that we all should be prepared to watch for a major offensive against other areas of Ukraine,” Kirby said, and adding that he believes the threat to Kyiv is not over.
He said: “Russia has failed in its objective of capturing Kyiv, it’s failed in its objective of subjugating Ukraine, but they can still inflict massive brutality on the country, including in Kyiv.”
Russia’s Defense Ministry said earlier that it would redirect its forces to focus on eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region.
The Russian military has a history of employing misdirection and behaving deceptively in conflicts.
In 2014, for example, Russia began its invasion and eventual annexation of Crimea by sending in troops wearing masks and unmarked uniforms. Initially, the Kremlin denied that these mysterious forces — often called the “little green men” — were Russian military.
Russian President Vladimir Putin at the time claimed they were just local “self-defense groups.” Putin later admitted that the “little green men” were Russian troops.
Putin also employed false, misleading pretenses as he launched his unprovoked war in Ukraine — including claiming Russia was pursuing the “de-Nazification” of its next-door neighbor. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is Jewish and some of his relatives were killed in the Holocaust, underscoring the erroneous nature of Putin’s assertions.
The Kremlin has also gone to extraordinary lengths to hide the true and devastating extent of its unprovoked war in Ukraine from the Russian public. Accordingly, Western leaders and officials continue to be skeptical of any claims made by the Russian government regarding the conflict.