After the Russian Ministry of Defense announced Tuesday that it has decided to “drastically reduce hostilities” in the Kyiv and Chernihiv directions, the United States is already observing these movements underway — a major strategy shift, according to two senior US officials.
Russia is beginning to withdraw some forces, including Russian Battalion Tactical Groups (BTGs) leaving the surrounding areas around the Ukrainian capital. The Russian forces now pulling back in some areas of the north to focus on gains in the south and east.
The US assesses Russia will cover their retreat with air and artillery bombardment of the capital, one of the officials said. US officials caution that Russia could always reverse again if the battle conditions allow.
The move follows peace talks between Russian and Ukrainian delegations in Istanbul on Tuesday.
In the US view, this is not a short-term adjustment to regroup, but a longer-term move as Russia comes to grips with failure to advance in the north. The official said one consequence the US is concerned about, is keeping the European allies unified on economic pressure and military support as Washington expects some of them to press Ukraine to accept a peace deal to end the fighting.
Ukraine’s military intelligence head says Russian President Vladimir Putin could be looking to carve Ukraine in two – like North and South Korea.
Brig. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukraine's Defense Intelligence Agency, said Russia’s operations around Kyiv had failed and it was now impossible for the Russian army to overthrow the Ukrainian government. Putin’s war was now focused on the south and the east of the country, he said.