Russia to “drastically reduce military activity”

  • Russia’s Defense Ministry said it will “drastically reduce military activity” on two fronts — Kyiv and Chernihiv — following in-person talks between Russia and Ukraine in Istanbul. US officials are skeptical of Russia’s claims, with the Pentagon cautioning that troop movement near Kyiv is “a repositioning,” not a withdrawal.
  • New video from Irpin shows the extent of the destruction in the city, northwest of Kyiv, after Ukrainian forces pushed Russian troops out of the area.
  • Meanwhile, Russian forces struck the office of the regional military governor of the southwestern Mykolaiv region on Tuesday, leaving several dead, according to Ukrainian authorities.
  • Ukraine’s President has called for even tighter sanctions against Russia and warned that almost all of Mariupol has been destroyed. New satellite images of the besieged southern port city show entire blocks obliterated.

Russia insisted for weeks when massing more than 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders that it had no plans to invade. Then it did. So it’s not surprising that deep skepticism greeted its Tuesday announcement of a scaled-back offensive.

The US — like everyone — is desperate for a de-escalation of Moscow’s onslaught, for humanitarian reasons and because it could ease fears of a spill-over US war with Russia.

But the experience of President Vladimir Putin’s previous lies and propaganda, and of his brutality, clouded the first signs of progress between Ukrainian and Russian negotiators in Turkey. The treacherous path any ceasefire or peace deal would face, first to be implemented and then to become permanent, also tempered optimism in the West and Ukraine.

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In the Cold War, the famous US mantra after nuclear arms reduction deals with the Kremlin was “trust but verify.” In this conflict, the approach is exactly the opposite — verify and distrust. The shift reflects the stark suspicion toward the Russian President following his two decades of anti-West leadership. It is also born of revulsion at vicious assaults on innocent civilians — in hospitals, apartment blocks and a theater used as a shelter — over the last month.