Russians bombard Kyiv outskirts, Chernihiv despite promise to scale back

Nearly five weeks into an invasion in which it has failed to capture any major cities, Russia said it would curtail operations near Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv “to increase mutual trust” for peace talks.

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LVIV/KYIV OUTSKIRTS: Russian forces bombarded the outskirts of Kyiv and a besieged city in northern Ukraine on Wednesday, a day after promising to scale down operations there in what the West dismissed as a ploy to regroup by invaders taking heavy losses.

Nearly five weeks into an invasion in which it has failed to capture any major cities, Russia said it would curtail operations near Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv “to increase mutual trust” for peace talks.

But Reuters journalists in Kyiv heard intensified bombardment on Wednesday morning from the direction of frontline suburbs. The capital itself was not hit overnight, but windows rattled from the relentless artillery on its outskirts.

Chernihiv’s Mayor Vladyslav Astroshenko said Russian bombardment had intensified over the past 24 hours, with more than 100,000 people trapped in the city with just enough food and medical supplies to last about another week. “This is yet another confirmation that Russia always lies,” he told CNN in an interview. “They actually have increased the intensity of strikes,” with “a colossal mortar attack in the center of Chernihiv” on Wednesday wounding 25 civilians.

Reuters could not verify the situation in Chernihiv. Russia’s defense ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

In an overnight address, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky made clear he took nothing Moscow said at face value.

“Ukrainians are not naive people,” he said. “Ukrainians have already learned during these 34 days of the invasion, and over the past eight years of the war in Donbas, that the only thing they can trust is a concrete result.”

Zelensky adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said Moscow was shifting some forces from northern Ukraine to the east, trying to encircle the main Ukrainian force there. Some Russians would stay behind near Kyiv to tie Ukrainian forces down, he said.

Russian forces also hit industrial facilities in western Ukraine in three strikes overnight, a regional governor said.

Around a quarter of Ukrainians have been driven from their homes by the biggest attack on a European country since World War Two. The United Nations said on Wednesday that the number who have fled the country had risen above 4 million. More than half of those refugees are children and the rest mostly women.

The past week has seen Ukrainian forces make substantial gains, recapturing towns and villages on the outskirts of Kyiv, breaking the siege of the eastern city of Sumy and pushing back Russian forces in the southwest.

Reuters journalists who visited recaptured areas near Kyiv this week saw villages flattened, littered with the burned-out wreckage of Russian tanks and charred bodies of Russian soldiers.

The Pentagon said Russia had started moving very small numbers of troops away from positions around Kyiv, describing the move as more of a repositioning than a withdrawal.

“We all should be prepared to watch for a major offensive against other areas of Ukraine,” spokesman John Kirby told a news briefing. “It does not mean the threat to Kyiv is over.”

Britain’s defense ministry said Moscow was being forced to pull troops from the vicinity of Kyiv to Russia and Belarus, to resupply and reorganize after taking heavy losses.

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