As the Russian invasion of Ukraine dragged into its second week, the world began to notice something remarkable: The Kremlin’s army, one of the most feared in the world, was functionally incompetent. Not only did commanders have to deceive their own troops into invading the sovereign nation next door, but they had such trouble providing even the most meager of supplies that Russian troops began to abandon their posts en masse.
Now, over a month into combat operations, the Russians appear to be posturing for a peace deal that will allow them to slink away with at least some of their pride still attached.
The Russian military said Tuesday that it had “drastically” reduced its military activity near the Ukraine capital of Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv as talks with Ukraine aimed at ending the war entered the “practical” stage.
Russia and Ukraine began face-to-face talks Tuesday in Turkey as the United Nations pressed for a cease-fire for Russia’s brutal invasion. The talks took place in the Turkish presidential office in Istanbul and lasted more than three hours, Russia’s Tass reported.
The retreats were confirmed by Ukraine.
Ukraine’s military said it had detected withdrawals around Kyiv and Chernihiv; the Pentagon said it could not confirm the reports. The Russian advance on Kyiv had stalled in recent weeks, but missile strikes have battered the city and left shortages of food, water and other necessities for a population of almost 3 million people.
Of course, Russia has been known to play dirty when it comes to these sorts of things, with a recent cadre of peace negotiators suffering what appears to have been an attempt to chemically or radioactively poison them during talks with the Russians.