Russia has begun to reposition less than 20% of the forces positioned around Ukraine’s capital Kyiv. However, the Pentagon cautioned that Russia would need to refit and resupply the forces for redeployment to Ukraine and not return the forces home.
Russian forces attacked the outskirts and city of Chernihiv, northern Ukraine, on Wednesday. This came a day after Russia claimed it would reduce military operations in the two cities. The West dismissed this as an attempt to regroup with invaders who have suffered heavy losses.
John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesperson, said that some Russian forces might have moved into Belarus as well as their home garrisons.
Kirby stated that they were leaving Kyiv to head more towards the north, away the city.
Kirby stated that troops were leaving the region, including some from Chernihiv and those fighting near Sumy.
He said that Kyiv was still under attack by ground and air strikes.
An American official spoke on condition of anonymity to say that some Russian troops were also leaving Chernobyl’s power station. It wasn’t clear whether the troops were leaving the area around the plant or surrounding areas.
According to military analysts, Russia has changed the way it views its war goals in Ukraine. This may allow Moscow to claim a victory that will save face despite an awful campaign in which his army suffered humiliating setbacks.
Kirby also stated that the Russian contractor Wagner Group had sent about 1,000 personnel to Ukraine’s Donbas, which Moscow declared a priority.
Russian President Vladimir Putin stated in the past Wagner and other private organizations do not represent Russia nor are they paid by it. However, he said that they have the right to exist provided they don’t break Russian law.
Last year, the European Union placed sanctions on Wagner, accusing it destabilizing countries, fuelling violence and looting natural resources.
On Wednesday, the top U.S. Military Commander in Europe informed Congress that President Joe Biden had made a policy decision not to allow U.S. warships to enter the Black Sea before Russia invaded Ukraine.
This disclosure highlighted the efforts Biden made to prevent Moscow from using Ukraine’s invasion as a pretext. Republican critics have taken advantage of this revelation in recent days, pressing for a stronger U.S. response.
Kirby stated that the United States had made the decision because it was considered prudent to “make it very clear that no one was interested in provoking conflict through some posture decision that was being made.”
He said, “So it was prudent to do at that time, and I don’t have any information to announce if and when U.S. vessels will return into the Black Sea.”
On Wednesday, Ukraine accused Russia of planting mines at the Black Sea. It also stated that some of the munitions must be removed from Turkey and Romania to reduce the risk to merchant shipping in the area.
The Black Sea is a major route for oil, grain and other products. It is shared by Russia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Turkey, Georgia, and Romania.