Russia bombards areas where it pledged to scale back
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian forces bombarded areas around Kyiv and another city just hours after pledging to scale back operations in those zones to promote trust between the two sides, Ukrainian authorities said Wednesday.
The shelling — and intensified Russian attacks on other parts of the country — tempered optimism about any progress in the talks aimed at ending the punishing war.
The Russian military’s announcement Tuesday that it would de-escalate near the capital and the northern city of Chernihiv to “increase mutual trust and create conditions for further negotiations” was met with deep suspicion from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the West.
Soon after, Ukrainian officials reported that Russian shelling hit homes, stores, libraries and other civilian sites in and around Chernihiv and on the outskirts of Kyiv. Russian troops also stepped up their attacks on the Donbas region in the east and around the city of Izyum, which lies on a key route to the Donbas, after redeploying units from other areas, the Ukrainian side said.
Alexander Lomako, secretary of the Chernihiv city council, said the Russian announcement turned out to be “a complete lie.”
“At night they didn’t decrease, but vice versa increased the intensity of military action,” Lomako said.
Five weeks into the invasion that has left thousands dead on both sides, the number of Ukrainians fleeing the country topped a staggering 4 million, half of them children, according to the United Nations.
“I do not know if we can still believe the Russians,” Nikolay Nazarov, a refugee from Ukraine, said as he pushed his father’s wheelchair at a border crossing into Poland. “I think more escalation will occur in eastern Ukraine. That is why we cannot go back to Kharkiv.”