Russia has pledged to withdraw troops from certain areas in Ukraine, but many are sceptical about whether the Kremlin is being honest. Ukraine’s military believes the withdrawals “are probably a rotation of individual units” aimed at misleading Ukraine’s military leadership and creating a “misconception” about the meaning of their deployment. The update echoes statements made by Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, who said the threat to Kyiv remained, despite Russian troop movements away from the city. Mr Kirby said: “We’re seeing a small number now that appears to be moving away from Kyiv.
“This [is] on the same day that the Russians say they’re withdrawing, but we’re not prepared to call this a retreat, or even a withdrawal.
“What they probably have in mind is a repositioning to prioritise elsewhere.
“It’s certainly not a significant chunk of the multiple battalion tactical groups that Russia has arrayed against Kyiv.
“It’s not anywhere near a majority of what they have arrayed.”
The invasion has seen major Ukrainian cities blasted by Russian strikes while millions have fled to neighbouring countries.
Russians have also felt the consequences after the West hit the country with sanctions.
In February, The Guardian spoke to Russians in Moscow about what was happening at the start of the invasion.
Many Russians rushed to cashpoints to retrieve their savings.
Alexei Presnyakov, 32, said: “It said they had dollars so I came here immediately. Yesterday [the rate] was 80 [to the dollar]. Today it’s 100. Or 150.
“I just made a spontaneous decision today that I would ask [out of work] and go around until I took out all my money before it was worth zero.”
One business owner summed up the unpredictability of living in Russia while President Vladimir Putin waged war against a sovereign nation.
They said: “We have no f****** clue what he will do next.
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“No one in the business community has a clue any more. Everyone is so depressed. I have experienced so many economic crises here, the pandemic being the latest.
“But there was always a reason to keep on fighting for your business.
“Now, I don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel any more. Even if peace is achieved, the damage is done. How do we reverse it?”
It wasn’t just ordinary Russians who were left saddened by the war, even some of the country’s most influential and wealthy people called for Putin to end the conflict.
Oleg Deripaska, the billionaire businessman, had called for peace “as fast as possible” in a Telegram at the time.
Another oligarch, Mikhail Fridman, broke ranks with the Kremlin and called for an end to Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Mr Fridman said: “My parents are Ukrainian citizens and live in Lviv, my favourite city. But I have also spent much of my life as a citizen of Russia, building and growing businesses.
“I am deeply attached to Ukrainian and Russian peoples and see the current conflict as a tragedy for them both.
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“This crisis will cost lives and damage two nations who have been brothers for hundreds of years. While a solution seems frighteningly far off, I can only join those whose fervent desire is for the bloodshed to end.”
Reports of peace talks will be encouraging for people in Ukraine and Russia, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that Putin should be judged “by his actions and not by his words”.
Mr Johnson’s spokesman said yesterday: “We will judge Putin and his regime by his actions and not by his words.
“We don’t want to see anything less than a complete withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukrainian territory.”
He also warned in the weekly meeting of senior ministers in Number 10 that, while the Russian campaign continued to fail, Putin could inflict further damage in an attempt to “twist the knife”.
Mr Johnson’s comments came after Russia said it intended to “drastically reduce hostilities” around the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions and that it wants to “de-escalate” the conflict in Ukraine.