Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday said that Russian forces are allegedly trying to regroup before an assault on Kyiv.
“Today we have good news,” Zelenskyy said. “Our defenders are advancing in the Kyiv region, regaining control over Ukrainian territory.”
Zelenskyy then said that the Kyiv suburb of Irpin was re-captured by Ukrainian forces on Monday. Earlier, Ukrainian officials said that their forces rebuffed Russian troops, who have been attempting to move on Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, since the start of the conflict.
“I am grateful to everyone who worked for this result. The occupiers are pushed away from Irpin. Pushed away from Kyiv,” Zelenskyy added. “However, it is too early to talk about security in this part of our region. The fighting continues,” the Ukrainian president said.
Russian officials have not made any public comments on Zelenskyy’s claim.
Hours later, a top Russian Defense Ministry official said Moscow will pare back its forces near Kyiv and Chernihiv amid negotiations between the Ukrainians and Russians in Istanbul. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the two sides have a “historic responsibility” to stop the fighting, reported The Associated Press.
“We believe that there will be no losers in a just peace. Prolonging the conflict is not in anyone’s interest,” Erdogan said, greeting members of both negotiation teams.
Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin made the announcement as delegations from the two countries negotiate.
“In order to increase mutual trust and create the necessary conditions for further negotiations and achieving the ultimate goal of agreeing and signing (an) agreement, a decision was made to radically, by a large margin, reduce military activity in the Kyiv and Chernihiv directions,” Fomin told reporters, according to state television.
Ukraine military officials told The Associated Press on Tuesday that it had noted withdrawals around Kyiv and Chernihiv. Late last week, Russia announced that it would enter another phase of the invasion, which started on Feb. 24, and instead focus on regions in eastern Ukraine.
During remarks in Morocco on Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters that the United States is evaluating whether Russia is moving its forces away from those two cities or “whether [Moscow] is simply trying to regroup.”
Ukrainian negotiators said they had proposed at the latest round of talks with Russia that Ukraine adopt neutral status in exchange for security guarantees, meaning Kyiv would not join military alliances or host military bases.
Fomin said Russia had also called on Ukraine to eliminate what he called torture of captured Russian prisoners.
Reuters contributed to this report.