Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told CNN Friday he believes a regrouping of Russian troops is happening as “they cannot sustain the pressure” to continue an assault on Ukraine from three fronts.
Speaking to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Kuleba said that the decision by Moscow to reduce military activity on the two fronts of Kyiv and Chernihiv came at a time when “Ukrainian forces started to successfully push them back from villages and small towns in the siege of Kyiv. The reason they said it was because they felt they cannot sustain the pressure and they cannot keep the front line around Kyiv.”
Kuleba said that it may be indicative of Russian President Vladimir Putin becoming more realistic about his military strategy. “I believe he already has become more real since I cannot imagine that the withdrawal of Russian forces from the north of Ukraine was not ordered by him,” the minister said.
“If we translate this recent movement into the human language, it literally means I do not have sufficient power to continue attacking Ukraine from three directions simultaneously. So I have to move part of my military strength to another direction to reinforce my army in that area,” he said.
"Whatever his picture of reality is, from the steps they are making on the ground, I can conclude that he has an understanding that his power, that he is not strong enough to continue attacking Ukraine from all corners and that's clear now," Kubela added.
But the foreign minister also said that he thinks the withdrawal of Russian forces may be an attempt to strategically prepare for an assault on Ukraine’s Donbas region.
“We see that some of their military unions are withdrawing back into the territory of Belarus, but at the same time we hear consistent messages and we also received intelligence that they're still looking at Donbas as a low-hanging fruit,” he told CNN. “They need to regroup resources and to prepare for the battle for Donbas.”
The Russian Ministry of Defense said Friday that two Ukrainian Mi-24 helicopters carried out an attack on a fuel storage facility in southern Russia. When asked on whether it was Ukraine who had carried out the attack, Kuleba said that he could not verify it.
When asked by Amanpour as to whether he is surprised more generally by Ukraine’s military capability in the air, Kuleba said that he has “trust in the people of Ukraine and in our armed forces and as foreign minister in our diplomacy. This is a war. They attacked us to destroy us and they reject our right to exist as a nation so it means that we will be fighting back by all means available to us within existing international laws of warfare."
“We are not getting tired of fighting for freedom, for independence and for values. So I hope that people in the West will not get tired of supporting us, as well,” he said.
“The only fatigue they have observed so far is the fatigue in the capitals who try to not to avoid the sanctions on Russia, but we are working with them and I hope I believe we will help them to overcome that fatigue,” Kuleba added.