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Zelenskyy: 'Ukrainians are not naive people' when it comes to Russian promises on war

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By Euronews  with AP
In this image from video provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks from Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday night, March 29, 2022.
In this image from video provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks from Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday night, March 29, 2022.   -   Copyright  AP PhotoUkrainian Presidential Press Office via AP

Russia's pledge to scale back some military operations in Ukraine has drawn scepticism from Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

In his latest video message, Zelenskyy said there was no reason to believe Russia's announcement that it would reduce military activity near the cities of Kyiv and Chernihiv, given what's still happening on the ground.

“We can call those signals that we hear at the negotiations positive,” he said. “But those signals don’t silence the explosions of Russian shells.”

The Russian pledge came after a day of seemingly productive talks between negotiators in Istanbul, but the Ukrainian president remains wary, and his military says the move is "designed to mislead".

Zelenskyy said it was Ukrainian troops who forced Russia’s hand into making some concessions at Tuesday's negotiations, but added: "We shouldn’t let down our guard” because the invading army can still carry out attacks.

“Ukrainians are not naive people," he said. "Ukrainians have already learned during the 34 days of the invasion and during the past eight years of war in the Donbas that you can trust only concrete results.”

Alexei Alexandrov/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
A woman rides a bicycle past a burned bus after fighting on the outskirts of Mariupol, UkraineAlexei Alexandrov/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Ukrainian military dismisses Russian intentions

Ukrainian military officials said they distrust Russia’s statement that it will scale back military operations around the cities of Kyiv and Chernihiv.

"There are indications that the Russian forces are regrouping to focus their efforts on eastern Ukraine,” the Ukrainian general staff said in a statement late on Tuesday.

“At the same time, the so-called ‘withdrawal of troops’ is most likely a rotation of individual units and is aimed at misleading the Ukrainian military leadership” by creating the misconception that the Russians have decided not to try to encircle Kyiv.

In a Facebook post, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said "the Russian enemy continues to conduct full-scale armed aggression against Ukraine".

"In the temporarily occupied territories of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson oblasts, the enemy continues to commit illegal acts against the local population."

Meanwhile, the governor of the Chernihiv region says Russian attacks continued overnight despite Moscow saying it would reduce military activity in the area.

Viacheslav Chaus said in a video message on social media that houses and infrastructure including libraries and shopping centres had been damaged in the cities of Chernihiv and Nizhyn.

Chaus didn’t say if anyone had been killed or injured.

Of Russia’s statement that it would cut back its military activity, he said: “Do we believe that? Of course not.”