“We can say that the signals we hear during the negotiations are positive, but they do not make us forget the explosions or the Russian grenades.” In a video message released Tuesday, March 29, President Volodymyr Zelensky perfectly summed up the international community’s skepticism after promises of de-escalation on the Ukrainian front came from Moscow.
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After talks held in Istanbul on Tuesday, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin announced that his country “radically reduce” [son] military activity towards Kiev and Chernihiv” in the north of Ukraine. This is why most foreign powers remain cautious about Russian announcements.
Because she doubts a “true withdrawal”
After about five weeks of war, thousands of casualties and millions of refugees, the Ukrainian army is not too happy about this Russian announcement. “The so-called ‘troop withdrawal’ is probably a rotation of individual units, which aims to mislead the military command of the Ukrainian armed forces”the Ukrainian General Staff said in a press release on Tuesday evening.
The United States Department of Defense also cited a: “reposition” Russian troops, not a “true withdrawal”† “It is very likely that Russia will try to transfer its clout from the north to the regions.” [séparatistes] from Donetsk and Luhansk to the east”counted the British Ministry of Defense on its Twitter account.
Latest Defense Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – March 29, 2022
Read more about the UK government’s response: https://t.co/MGJpGUFJ8K
—Department of Defense (@DefenceHQ) March 29, 2022
Sergei Shoigu, the Russian defense minister, has also confirmed this himself. According to him, Russia has its “objectively” † “The military potential of the Ukrainian armed forces has been significantly reduced, making it possible to focus attention and efforts on the liberation of Donbass.”
“When Russia says there is a drastic reduction in force, it is actually called a retreat because there is a Ukrainian counter-offensive against Russian forces both in the west and east of Kiev.”analyzes Julien Théron, co-author of Putin, the strategy of disorderquestioned on franceinfo. These are elements of language. It’s a way of making a retreat appear as a movement of goodwill, of de-escalation.”
Because the bombing continues
In areas that would be less targeted by the Russian army, the de-escalation promised by Moscow is relative for the time being. For example, the warning sirens could be heard several times in the night from Tuesday to Wednesday in Kiev. The situation around the capital also remains very difficult: the population is fleeing the villages to the east of the city, where the inhabitants ensure that the Russian troops continue to carry out a ruthless occupation.
Ukrainian authorities have also accused Moscow of bombing the city of Chernihiv in the north of the country all night. “The situation does not change, Chernihiv is under artillery and aerial bombardment”said Viatcheslav Tchaous, the regional governor. lhe city, which had 280,000 inhabitants before the war, is without water, without electricity and without communication. “And we can’t fix them anymore”, he added. The governor also mentioned strikes on Nijyne, in the same region.
Because it can be a bluff
For Ukraine’s allies, it will be necessary above all to assess Moscow on paper. “We’ll see if they keep their word”US President Joe Biden told the press. In London, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said nothing else: the UK will judge Putin and his regime on his actions, not his wordshe said.
Same story on the French side: “We will judge the actions and not the announcements”Anne-Claire Legendre, spokeswoman for the Quai d’Orsay, responded. “We have also seen that Russia is playing the game of negotiation for other reasons to save time, to maintain a certain confusion in the minds of public opinion, so we have to judge all of that.”she said at the franceinfo microphone.
“It reminds me of the Syria negotiationsexpert Julien Théron notes on franceinfo. About ten years ago, in the Geneva process, the negotiations were absolutely endless, which can be seen as a delaying process to buy time. In reality, the few times there was an agreement, it hadn’t been executed.”