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Russia pledges to reduce attack on Kyiv but U.S. warns threat not over

World Mar 29, 2022 04:38PM ET
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6/6 © Reuters. 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 2/6

By Jonathan Spicer and Gleb Garanich

ISTANBUL/KYIV OUTSKIRTS/MARIUPOL, Ukraine (Reuters) - Russia promised on Tuesday to scale down military operations around Kyiv and another city but the United States warned the threat was not over as Ukraine proposed adopting a neutral status in a sign of progress at face-to-face negotiations.

Talks took place in an Istanbul palace more than a month into the largest attack on a European nation since World War Two that has killed or injured thousands, forced nearly 4 million to flee abroad and pummelled Russia's economy with sanctions.

Russia's invasion has been halted on most fronts by stiff resistance from Ukrainian forces who have recaptured territory even as civilians are trapped in besieged cities.

"A decision was made to radically, by a large margin, reduce military activity in the Kyiv and Chernihiv directions," Russian Deputy Defence Minister Alexander Fomin told reporters on Tuesday.

He made no mention of other areas that have seen heavy fighting, including around Mariupol in the southeast, Sumy and Kharkiv in the east and Kherson and Mykolaiv in the south.

Russia has started moving very small numbers of troops away from positions around Kyiv in a move that is more of a repositioning than a retreat or a withdrawal from the war, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

"It does not mean that the threat to Kyiv is over," spokesman John Kirby (NYSE:KEX) told a news briefing.

A total of 10 U.S. F-18 aircraft and more than 200 troops are being deployed to NATO member and Russian neighbour, Lithuania, and U.S. troops in Poland are "liaising" with Ukrainian forces as they hand over weapons to them, he added.

Russia calls its assault a "special operation" to disarm and "denazify" Ukraine. The West says it launched an unprovoked invasion.

Some analysts noted that Russia's promise to reduce fighting mostly covered areas where it has been losing ground.

"Does 'we'll drastically reduce military operations around Kyiv' = 'we’re getting our ass kicked, transitioned to a hasty defense?'" tweeted Mark Hertling, a retired U.S. lieutenant general and former commander of U.S. forces in Europe.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said only a concrete result from the talks can be trusted.

"We can say the signals we are receiving from the talks are positive but they do not drown out the explosions of Russian shells," he said.

PROPOSALS

Ukrainian negotiators said that under their proposals, Kyiv would agree not to join alliances or host bases of foreign troops, but would have security guaranteed in terms similar to "Article 5", the collective defence clause of the transatlantic NATO military alliance.

They named Israel and NATO members Canada, Poland and Turkey as countries that may give such guarantees. Russia, the United States, Britain, Germany and Italy could also be involved.

The proposals, which would require a referendum in Ukraine, mentioned a 15-year consultation period on the status of Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014.

The fate of the southeastern Donbas region, which Russia demands Ukraine cede to separatists, would be discussed by the Ukrainian and Russian leaders.

Kyiv's proposals also included one that Moscow would not oppose Ukraine joining the European Union, Russia's lead negotiator Vladimir Medinsky said. Russia has previously opposed Ukrainian membership of the EU and especially of NATO.

Medinsky said Russia's delegation would study and present the proposals to President Vladimir Putin.

To prepare a peace agreement, Medinsky later told the TASS news agency, "we still have a long way to go".

U.S. President Joe Biden spoke by phone about Ukraine with the leaders of Britain, France, Germany and Italy.

A source familiar with the situation told Reuters the allies discussed more financial aid of up to $500 million for Ukraine.

SCAVENGING

On the ground, reports of attacks continued.

A shell hit a temporary Russian military camp near the border with Ukraine late on Tuesday, Tass news agency said and cited a source as saying preliminary data showed it had been fired from the Ukrainian side.

Tass issued the report shortly after a senior local official reported a series of explosions outside the city of Belgorod, close to the border with Ukraine. Reuters could not immediately verify the details.

In Mariupol, besieged for weeks by Russian forces, thousands of civilians may have died, the head of the United Nations human rights mission in the country told Reuters on Tuesday, providing its first estimate of the toll.

Those who remain there are suffering.

"We are eight people. We have two buckets of potatoes, one bucket of onions," said Irina, an engineer, in her apartment where windows had been blasted out. Her group boiled soup on a makeshift stove in the stairwell.

Elsewhere, however, Ukrainian forces have made advances, recapturing territory from Russian troops on the outskirts of Kyiv, in the northeast and in the south.

One recaptured area on a road towards the village of Rusaniv was littered with burnt-out tanks and bits of Russian uniforms. Surrounding houses were destroyed.

In the southern city of Mykolaiv, a missile blasted a hole through the main administrative building. Authorities said at least 12 people were killed and 33 injured.

The Moscow-backed self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic in eastern Ukraine may consider joining Russia once it controls all of Ukraine's Donetsk region, its leader was quoted as saying. Kyiv has said any such move would have no legal basis.

Several European Union countries on Tuesday expelled dozens of Russian diplomats, some for alleged spying, in what the Irish prime minister said was a coordinated move. Russia vowed retaliation.

Russia pledges to reduce attack on Kyiv but U.S. warns threat not over
 

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Comments (17)
Shep De
Shep De Mar 29, 2022 10:14PM ET
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Oil embargo, doesn't Putin deserve, at least, one real sanction, anything, Germany & USA carve out a deal of 10% reserves for 6 months.Economies of western democracy very strong now though, both Lagarde and Powell have said so.Inflation, inversion curve is long ways down line, why not punish Russia when we certainly can? STOP their oil from us, it's right thing to do, blood money too
William Smith
William Smith Mar 29, 2022 8:53PM ET
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Just think, Biden has now destroyed two economies in the last 12 months. Russia's AMD America's. C'mon man, I did that.
Maximus Maximus
Maximus Maximus Mar 29, 2022 8:53PM ET
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putinbot
Matt Skinner
Matt Skinner Mar 29, 2022 6:05PM ET
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How is anyone suprised the russian army has sucked. Theu always ****and nake it up by dieng a ton. How they keep having the same style of leadership is amzing.
bret again
bret again Mar 29, 2022 1:11PM ET
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Folly is building something, tbis was war, wanton destruction, evil dictator **** let’s not sugar coat it, the man must pay for all the lives he stole and destroyed.
Brad Albright
Brad Albright Mar 29, 2022 1:11PM ET
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Folly: A costly undertaking having an absurd or ruinous outcome.
Brad Albright
Brad Albright Mar 29, 2022 12:38PM ET
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Putin sent thousands of his soldiers to their deaths for his folly.
Kelly Mayer
Kelly Mayer Mar 29, 2022 11:53AM ET
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BS news. Pure market manipulation.  Inflation Crisis; Food Crisis; Energy Crisis; Supply Chain Crisis; Russia Financial War; Deglobalization; Real Estate Evergrande ; China Taiwan Invasion crisis; Epic Recession probability; Dedollarization crisis;
gab nea
gab nea Mar 29, 2022 11:52AM ET
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putin suffered nada, even with mother of all sanctions. He cannot be trusted anymore. he will rearm and try again later, see you in 8 yrs, chumps.
Maximus Maximus
Maximus Maximus Mar 29, 2022 11:45AM ET
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claiming to 'scale down' is just a face saving measure, now that the russians are on the defensive and getting their a(sses) handed to them by the Ukranian army
Steve Bucher
Steve Bucher Mar 29, 2022 11:34AM ET
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What about the destruction in Ukraine by the invading country Russia. Who is going to pay for that? Russia???
Jan Buyle
Jan Buyle Mar 29, 2022 11:03AM ET
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Putin is just buying time again to get his lousy army organized...
 
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