Pentagon sees Russia reposition under 20% of troops around Kiev

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WASHINGTON, March 30 (Reuters) – Russia has begun repositioning less than 20% of its troops around the Ukrainian capital Kiev, the Pentagon said on Wednesday, but warned that Russia is expected to reposition and resupply them for redeployment in Ukraine, and not the home forcing.

Russian forces bombed the outskirts of the capital Kiev and the besieged city of Chernihiv in northern Ukraine on Wednesday, a day after Russia announced it would wind down military operations in both cities in what the West dismissed as a ploy to regroup by invaders who suffered heavy casualties. † read more

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said some of the Russian forces may have already moved to Belarus, as opposed to their own garrisons.

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“They are leaving Kiev and are moving more north, away from the city,” Kirby told a news conference.

The troops leaving the area included some of those around Chernihiv and those fighting near the town of Sumy, Kirby said.

He added that Kiev continued to be attacked by air and ground attacks.

A US official, who wishes to remain anonymous, said some Russian troops also departed from near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. It was not clear whether the departing troops were leaving the exclusion zone around the factory or the surrounding towns.

Military analysts say Russia has modified its war targets in Ukraine to make it easier for Moscow to secure a face-saving victory, despite a disastrous campaign in which its military suffered humiliating setbacks.

Kirby added that Russian contractor Wagner Group had deployed about 1,000 employees in the Donbas region of Ukraine, which Moscow has declared a priority.

Ukrainian military controls an area near the destroyed Russian Armored Personnel Carriers (APC) on the front lines near Kiev as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, Ukraine March 30, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said in the past that Wagner and other private groups do not represent or are paid by the Russian state, although he says they have the right to operate provided they do not break Russian law.

The European Union imposed sanctions on Wagner last year, accusing her of fomenting violence, looting natural resources and destabilizing countries around the world.


Earlier on Wednesday, the top US military commander in Europe told Congress that President Joe Biden’s administration has made a policy decision to keep US warships out of the Black Sea ahead of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The revelation underscored Biden’s efforts in the run-up to the Russian invasion to prevent Moscow from giving a US-related pretext to attack Ukraine, something Republican critics have taken advantage of in recent days as they push for a stronger attack on Ukraine. American response.

Kirby said the decision was made because it was seen as a prudent move “to make it very clear to everyone that the United States was not interested in forcing a conflict through an attitude decision we were making.”

“So it was a wise thing to do at the time, and I have nothing to announce as to whether or when American ships will go back to the Black Sea,” he said.

Ukraine accused Russia of planting mines in the Black Sea on Wednesday and said some of that munitions had to be rendered harmless to Turkey and Romania as risks to merchant shipping in the region mount.

The Black Sea is an important shipping route for grain, oil and oil products. The waters are shared by Bulgaria, Romania, Georgia and Turkey, as well as Ukraine and Russia.

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Reporting by Idree Ali and Phil Stewart Editing by Alistair Bell

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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