Russia launched new missile strikes on the outskirts of Kyiv and other areas in northern Ukraine despite vowing to drastically reduce combat operations, The New York Times reports.
Russian officials on Tuesday vowed to sharply reduce fighting around Kyiv and northern Ukraine and instead focus on the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting Ukraine troops since 2014.
But Ukrainian officials later reported strikes targeting the Kyiv suburbs and nearby Chernihiv, raising doubts that Russia is planning to de-escalate in the rest of the country.
The attacks targeted civilian infrastructure, including homes, shops, and libraries.
Chernihiv Mayor Vladyslav Atroshenko told CNN that the city's center received "a colossal attack" and that Russian troops "have increased the intensity of strikes" on the city.
"Russia always lies," he said. "They're saying 'reducing intensity,' they actually have increased the intensity of strikes."
After peace talks in Turkey on Tuesday, Russian negotiator Vladimir Medinsky expressed optimism about the progress, citing Ukraine’s willingness to consider neutral status.
He said that Ukraine shifted its position “for the first time in years” and if they follow through, “the threat of creating a NATO bridgehead on the Ukrainian territory will be removed.”
But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov downplayed the progress.
“We can’t say there has been something promising or any breakthroughs,” he said.
The United States and the United Kingdom on Tuesday expressed skepticism about Russia’s claims.
“We judge the Russian military machine by its actions, not just its words,” British Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab told Sky News. “There’s obviously some skepticism that it will regroup to attack again rather than seriously engaging in diplomacy.”
President Joe Biden also said he would believe Russia’s claims when he saw evidence.
"We'll see. I don't read anything into it until I see what their actions are. We'll see if they follow through what they're suggesting," he said. "In the meantime, we're going to continue to keep strong the sanctions. We're going to continue to provide the Ukrainian military with their capacity to defend themselves and we're going to continue to keep a close eye on what's going on.”