Some See Strategy in Russia's Promise to Ease Up on Kyiv

Others can't hold back their skepticism
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 29, 2022 4:32 PM CDT
Some See Strategy in Russia's Promise to Ease Up on Kyiv
Ukrainian servicemen stand in trenches at a position north of the capital Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 29, 2022.   (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

"Actions speak louder than words" seems to be the quick response to Russia's announcement during Tuesday peace talks that it would "fundamentally" cut back military operations around the capital of Kyiv, which it got within about 12 miles of, and near the northern city of Chernihiv. A roundup of caution and skepticism:

  • President Biden told reporters, "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."
  • An unnamed US official told the BBC, "Yes, we have seen the Russians begin to draw away from Kyiv, but we have little confidence at this stage that it marks some significant shift or a meaningful retreat. The Russians are still pounding Kyiv with airstrikes. Time will tell."

  • The AP counts US Secretary of State Antony Blinken among those who are skeptical. "There is what Russia says and there's what Russia does," he said while in Morocco Tuesday, "And what Russia is doing is the continued brutalization of Ukraine."
  • Ditto UK PM Boris Johnson, whose office released a statement saying in part, "We must judge Putin's regime by their actions not their words,” Johnson’s office said. "Putin is twisting the knife in the open wound of Ukraine in an attempt to force the country and its allies to capitulate," per Radio Free Europe.
  • But the Washington Post reports a top Pentagon general told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday there were indications of "shifting dynamics" on the ground near Kyiv that seemed to lend credence to the idea of Russian troops cutting back.
  • Lawrence Freedman, emeritus professor of War Studies at King’s College London, reframes the offer, telling the New York Times, "De-escalation is a euphemism for retreat. Russia is adjusting its goals to reality ... it's not a ruse to say that they are concentrating on the Donbas [a mostly Russian-speaking region in eastern Ukraine], because in reality that’s all they can do."
  • A French defense analyst pushes that forward, telling the Times that in order for Russia to make gains in a negotiation, it has to be in a more threatening position. "This is a chance for the Russians to consolidate, to regroup, to remove themselves from places out of reach logistically, where they have already run out of food and ammunition. ... [Putin] will rebuild his army and continue."
(Read more Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.