Concessions or deception? In Ukraine, there is no belief that Russia will reduce its military activities around Kyiv as announced. Skepticism also prevails in the USA and Western Europe.
The Ukrainian government does not believe that Russia is actually withdrawing troops from the areas around Kyiv and Chernihiv on a large scale. The “so-called troop withdrawal” is more of a rotation of units intended to deceive the Ukrainian military leadership, the Ukrainian General Staff said on the night. This is also intended to create a false image of the allegedly discontinued plan to encircle Kiev.
The Russian military had withdrawn some units from the areas around Kyiv and Chernihiv, according to the situation report of the Ukrainian General Staff. But there are indications that these units will be deployed elsewhere in eastern Ukraine.
According to Russia, it wants to build trust
After a rapprochement in the Russian-Ukrainian negotiations yesterday in Istanbul, Russia announced that it would “radically” reduce its military activities in the Kyiv region and near Chernihiv in the north as a sign of accommodation. Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin said his government wanted to build trust and enable further negotiations.
“Ukrainians are not naive”
The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj expressed skepticism about this announcement. In a video speech in the evening, he said that there had been positive signals during talks between a Ukrainian and a Russian delegation in Istanbul. “But these signals do not drown out the explosions of Russian shells.” The reality is that Ukrainian cities will continue to be besieged and shelled. Therefore, the Ukrainian armed forces are “the only guarantee of our survival”.
Zelenskyy continues to have serious doubts about Russia’s trustworthiness: the Ukrainian side sees no reason to believe the words of representatives of a state who are still working on the destruction of Ukraine, he said. “Ukrainians are not naive.”
Ambassador: West should also be misled
The Ukrainian ambassador in Berlin, Andriy Melnyk, described Russia’s announcement as a “deceptive manoeuvre”. He told the newspapers of the Funke media group: “We believe that this ‘conciliatory’ rhetoric from Moscow is nothing more than bluff and smoke screens, on the one hand to distract attention from the Kremlin’s military embarrassment in Ukraine.” In addition, the Russian ruler Vladimir Putin is concerned with “misleading the West – including Germany”.
“We’ll see if they do that”
The governments of Western countries reacted cautiously. Max Blain, spokesman for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, said: “We will judge Putin and his regime by his actions, not his words”. US President Joe Biden made a similar statement. He did not want to evaluate the statements until he saw “the actions” of the Russian armed forces. “We will see if they implement what they propose,” he said.
Until there is an actual change, the pressure on Moscow with “tough sanctions” will continue and the Ukrainian military will continue to be supported, said Biden. Referring to a switch with his counterparts from Germany, France, Italy and Great Britain on Tuesday, Biden added that it was “consensus” to see what the Russians would do first.