Russia intensifies shelling in Kyiv and Chernihiv despite claims to scale back

Ukrainian regional leaders said Wednesday that Russian forces have stepped up their shelling of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, and the northern city of Chernihiv, targeting civilian infrastructure, including homes, shops and libraries, according to AP.

Why it matters: The attacks come a day after Russia’s defense ministry said it would drastically reduce military operations near those cities as partial steps toward a peace deal, though U.S. and British officials disputed those claims.

  • Russian advances on Kyiv and Chernihiv had already been stalled before Russia’s defense ministry announced the scale back.

What they’re saying: Vladyslav Atroshenko, mayor of Chernihiv, told CNN that the city’s center received “a colossal attack” Wednesday and that Russian forces “have increased the intensity of strikes” on the city.

  • “Russia always lies,” Atroshenko said. “They’re saying ‘reducing intensity,’ they actually have increased the intensity of strikes.”
  • Atroshenko said 25 people were wounded in those attacks.

The big picture: Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Tuesday that the U.S. had seen a “small number” of Russian forces moving away from Kyiv, though he stressed that Russia could just be repositioning to support attacks in other parts of Ukraine.

  • “We believe that this is a repositioning, not a real withdrawal, and that we all should be prepared to watch for a major offensive against other areas of Ukraine,” Kirby said.
  • A U.K. intelligence update Wednesday said Russian units were reorganizing and resupplying in Russia and Belarus.
  • As Russia’s efforts around Kyiv and other parts of Ukraine have stalled, its focus may be turning toward the eastern Donbas region.
  • The Russian military claimed last week that the “first stage of the operation” was accomplished, allowing troops to shift to their “top goal — the liberation of Donbas,” according to AP.

Go deeper … In photos: Mariupol devastated after weeks of Russian bombardment


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