Ukraine war: 'Russian units are not withdrawing but repositioning', says NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg

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By AP
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference during an extraordinary NATO summit at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, March 24, 2022
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference during an extraordinary NATO summit at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, March 24, 2022   -  Copyright  Credit: AP Photo

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday that Russian forces are not withdrawing but repositioning despite recent statements about scaling down their military operations around Kyiv and in northern Ukraine.

Russia promised during talks in Istanbul on Tuesday that it would de-escalate operations near Kyiv and Chernihiv to “increase mutual trust and create conditions for further negotiations”.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the West were sceptical.

Stoltenberg told reporters on Thursday that “Russia has repeatedly lied about its intentions,” and must be judged on its actions alone, not the word of its leaders.

“According to our intelligence, Russian units are not withdrawing but repositioning. Russia is trying to regroup, resupply and reinforce its offensive in the Donbas region,” he said.

At the same time, he said pressure is being kept up on Kyiv and other cities and “we can expect additional offensive actions bringing even more suffering”.

The US says Russia has begun to reposition less than 20% of its troops that had been arrayed around Kyiv.

The Pentagon says that most moved north, although some crossed into Belarus where they could be resupplied and sent back into Ukraine.