Topline

President Volodymyr Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials on Wednesday continued to doubt Russia’s promise to withdraw troops near the capital of Kyiv in pursuit of peace, as some Ukrainian members of parliament deemed the ongoing Russia-Ukraine peace negotiations a “smokescreen” used to buy time.

Key Facts

“We do not believe anyone,” Zelensky said in his nightly address Wednesday, following Russia’s claim Tuesday that it will “fundamentally cut back military activity” near Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv to build trust and help achieve a peace deal.

Zelensky said Russia’s troop movements are not a withdrawal, but rather the “consequences of exile, consequences of the work of our defenders.”

Russian forces are “not withdrawing. … They were kicked [out]

,” said Anastasia Radina, a member of the Ukrainian parliament who visited Washington with other Ukrainian lawmakers Wednesday, according to CNN, echoing Zelensky’s claim of Ukrainian resistance near the capital city.

Regarding peace negotiations with Russia, Zelensky said Wednesday talks between the two countries are “still words,” adding there have been “no specifics” so far.

Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, another member of the Ukrainian parliament, told reporters in D.C. Wednesday Russia’s peace negotiations are “far from real,” arguing Russian President Vladimir Putin is “using this as a smokescreen, buying time to regroup” and sending “lying messages to the whole world,” according to CNN.

Key Background

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby on Tuesday cautioned that Russia’s movement of troops “does not mean that the threat to Kyiv is over,” adding that the U.S. is not willing to call the move a retreat or withdrawal despite seeing a “small number” of Russian soldiers leaving the area. Ukraine’s General Staff of the Armed Forces claimed Tuesday the movements were actually just rotations of individual units. Kirby and Zelensky have both said the troops that are being moved are likely to be redeployed in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions, known collectively as the Donbas region. Russia claimed Friday this shift in strategy was Russia’s intent even prior to the invasion, but U.S. and Ukrainian officials believe it is actually a response to the Russian military’s unforeseen struggles in mounting a broader invasion of Ukraine, stemming from staunch Ukrainian resistance.

Tangent

Russian officials claim little progress has been made in recent negotiations with Ukraine. “We can’t point to anything particularly promising,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said following Tuesday’s meeting of negotiators in Turkey, according to the Wall Street Journal. During the meeting, Ukraine once again proposed adopting neutral status in exchange for security guarantees from the U.S., U.K., Israel and others.

Source: Forbes

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