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Vladimir Putin lays groundwork for possible scaling back of ambitions in Ukraine

Vladimir Putin appeared to be preparing Russians for a possible scaling back of his ambitions in Ukraine away from seizing Kyiv to fighting for control of the east.

As the Russian President’s troops suffered a series of setbacks, Moscow said the “special military operation” would now focus on the “main goal, liberation of Donbas”.

There were hopes the move could amount to a scaling back of the invasion, as Ukrainian troops were believed to be regaining ground around the capital of Kyiv.

Western intelligence also suggested a Russian brigade commander, Colonel Medvechek, was deliberately run down and killed by his own troops.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson confronted China’s President Xi Jinping in a “frank and candid” discussion as western allies tried to pressure Beijing away from offering support to Moscow.

In a terse readout following the 50-minute telephone call, a No 10 spokesman said they had discussed “a range of issues of mutual interest” including the situation in Ukraine.

The contact came after Nato leaders urged China to “abstain” from supporting Russia’s war effort and to refrain from any actions that would help it circumvent sanctions.

In the besieged city of Mariupol, authorities said about 300 people died in a Russian airstrike earlier this month on a theatre where hundreds of people were sheltering.

If confirmed, it is likely to lead to renewed calls for Western powers to step up military support for the Ukrainian forces.

Source: thesun

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