Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has indicated the peace talks with Russia seem to be disconnected with what is happening on the ground. In an exclusive interview with NDTV, Mr Kuleba said Russia attacks are still going on, through they have seen slight withdrawal of Russian forces from some areas.
“We have made some good proposals to Russia, but we need to see the situation on the ground. Attacks are going on. The talks seem to be disconnected with what is happening on the ground. There has been no meaningful withdrawal from Kyiv and Chernihiv,” Mr Kuleba told NDTV.
Peace talks were held in Istanbul yesterday, where Russia said it would “radically” reduce its military activity in northern Ukraine, including near the capital Kyiv. However, Ukraine suspects the Russian withdrawal could be a tactical one to regroup for a stronger offensive in the eastern part of the country, since Russian forces appear to be spread thin as they enter farther into Ukraine.
“We did see some Russian withdrawal from some areas… But if you see the light at the end of the tunnel, make sure it is not of an incoming train. So we need to be cautious about Russian assurances,” Mr Kuleba told NDTV, adding the Russian withdrawal could be tactical, instead of a constructive move.
“We want Russia’s constructive words to be matched with constructive moves. We are on the right side of history. We didn’t invade anyone. The initial assumption that the war would be over in a matter of day has been proven wrong. Now we are in the second month,” he said.
Earlier today, the Kremlin also played down hopes of a breakthrough following the peace talks in Istanbul a day earlier.
“We cannot state that there was anything too promising or any breakthroughs,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “There is a lot of work to be done,” Mr Peskov said.
Ukraine today accused Russia of shelling a city where it had promised de-escalation, dampening hopes of any resolution to the conflict that has killed thousands and displaced millions.
Ukraine and Western powers had already cast doubt on Russia’s pledge to reduce military activity around Chernigiv and the capital Kyiv, made during the face-to-face talks.
“Chernigiv was shelled all night,” regional governor Vyacheslav Chaus wrote on social media.