Russia vows to scale down military operations around Kyiv but the US remains skeptical

Russia vows to scale down military operations around Kyiv but the US remains skeptical
A service member of pro-Russian troops walks near an apartment building destroyed in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine March 28, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

Russia and Ukraine have spoken to one another, and while it didn’t result in a ceasefire like all of us hoped, it did do several other things. Russia has said that it will be de-escalating military operations in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv. Also, oil and grain prices have eased and stock markets rallied. Ukraine has also said it’s willing to discuss the status of Crimea (an area taken by Russia in 2014), and the country is willing to keep a “neutral” status and not enter NATO, provided it can get some security guarantees and protection from other countries.

But with this said, everyone, including Ukraine, is skeptical about how serious Russia is about de-escalation.

Key comments:

Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin said Moscow has decided to “fundamentally … cut back military activity in the direction of Kyiv and Chernihiv” to “increase mutual trust and create conditions for further negotiations.”

“There is what Russia says and there is what Russia does; we’re focused on the latter,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters in Morocco after the talks ended. “We have not seen signs of real seriousness” from Russia toward de-escalating its war.

“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 is going to withdraw all its forces,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters. It’s “a repositioning, not a real withdrawal.”

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