Hopes for a solution are fading as Russia orders new strikes

Any possible hope of an imminent solution to Russia’s war in Ukraine faded Wednesday as Russian attacks were reported in areas that Moscow suggested the day before would curb those violations.

The White House viewed the Russia statement with a high dose of skepticism and was not surprised by the new attacks reported near the northern cities of Kiev and Chernihiv. Meanwhile, Russian and Ukrainian officials have gathered in Turkey for peace talks, but those talks have not yet yielded any breakthroughs.

Russia has sent mixed messages about its intentions in the past 24 hours, further raising doubts as to whether a breakthrough is imminent in its attack, which is about to enter its sixth week.

The war has claimed the lives of thousands of Ukrainians and Russians, sparked a growing refugee crisis and brought crushing Western sanctions that have decimated Russia’s economy.

The Pentagon said Russia has begun to remove some troops from Kiev, but said those troops would likely be redeployed to other areas — signaling a shift in Russia’s strategy as it suffers heavy casualties.

President BidenJoe Biden Trump says he is not interested in being chairman if GOP takes over from House Biden again. spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for nearly an hour on Wednesday. The two men discussed the latest negotiations between Ukraine and Russia, with Biden pledging continued humanitarian, economic and military aid.

The White House has so far not become involved in talks between Ukraine and Russia, leaving it to other European leaders to deal directly with the Russian president. Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinRussian internet regulator announces fines against Google for ‘spreading false content’ Putin’s actions in Ukraine spread to northern Ukraine in battle with Russian Goliath: why dictators are so bad at war MORE

“We are not a negotiator in that process. We are clearly in close contact with the Ukrainians as they go through this process,” the White House communications director said Kate BedingfieldKate BedingfieldJared Kushner expects Jan. 6 panel interview this week: White House reports: Biden gets second boost if doctor recommends Defense and national security – Officials skeptical Russia cuts military campaign MORE told reporters Wednesday.

“Once again, our role is to do everything we can to strengthen Ukraine on the battlefield…

The New York Times reported that the Kremlin’s top negotiator, Vladimir Medinsky, suggested on state television that Ukraine was making significant concessions on neutrality. But a few hours earlier, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the talks in Istanbul had yielded nothing promising.

Meanwhile, the Institute for the Study of War said the Russians have not given up on the attacks on Kiev, despite their statements. It ruled that the Russian army has “at this point given up the encirclement or capture of Kiev”.

Pentagon Press Secretary John KirbyJohn KirbyRussian internet regulator announces fines to Google for ‘spreading false content’ Defense and national security — Officials skeptical Russia cuts military campaign Ukraine-Russia peace talks full of uncertainty MORE told reporters on Wednesday that in the past day Russia has begun moving less than 20 percent of its troops around Kiev away from the city, including sending some to Belarus. The Pentagon’s estimate, he said, is that Russia will relocate the troops and then deploy them in other parts of Ukraine.

“We haven’t seen any of them move to their own garrison,” Kirby said. “If the Russians are serious about de-escalation because that’s their claim there, then they should send them home. But they don’t, at least not yet.”

Analysts and officials say the Russian military has underperformed in Ukraine and has faced serious resistance.

Biden’s administration officials have revealed that US intelligence has assessed that Putin feels “misguided” by the Russian military and that military officials have “misinformed him” about how poorly Russian troops are doing on the battlefield.

Retired Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, former commander of US Army Europe, told The Hill that the Russians have “absolutely failed” in their original plan to capture Kiev and other cities. He predicted that the Russians would return to where they have the most advantages to try to fortify the territory they control and intensify attacks on Mariupol to strengthen their negotiating position.

Meanwhile, it is unclear whether peace talks can make any progress. Ukraine said on Tuesday it would adopt neutral status and waive its desire to join NATO if given security guarantees.

Experts and lawmakers have said any ceasefire talks from Russia should be approached with some skepticism, given the Kremlin’s track record.

“I wouldn’t trust anything that Vladimir Putin suggests,” said Rep. Mike RogersMichael (Mike) Dennis Rogers Defense and National Security — Officials Skeptical Russia Reduce Military Campaign Balance/Sustainability — Salmon disappears into North Pacific Hillicon Valley black box — DOJ throws weight behind antitrust law MORE (R-Ala.), senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, said at The Hill’s Future of Defense Summit. “If I were President Zelensky, I would continue to fight as ferociously as they have fought until Putin himself proposes something acceptable to Zelensky. In my opinion, that should be nothing less than withdrawal, complete withdrawal from the country.”

Hodges argued that the US should provide Ukraine with more military aid to oust the Russians, including the means to destroy Russian long-range missiles and artillery and bolster their air and missile defense capabilities. Without more urgency on the part of the US, he said, “this could last forever.”

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