By Uganda Online Correspondent
US armed forces are moving aircraft and soldiers to Eastern Europe, Defense Department spokesperson John Kirby said on Tuesday.
This includes a unit of around 200 marines that has been moved to Lithuania from Norway, Kirby said.
Ten F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets and a few C-130 Hercules transport planes, as well as some 200 associated soldiers, will be brought to Eastern Europe from the US. Kirby said that they would be moved shortly but that their precise destination remained unclear.
Following the announcement earlier on Tuesday that Russia would cut back on its military actions around Kyiv and Chernihiv, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said that the US believed some Russian troops had already left.
“Has there been some movement by some Russian units away from Kyiv in the last day or so? Yes, we think so. Small numbers,” Kirby told reporters.
“But we believe that this is a repositioning, not a real withdrawal and that we all should be prepared to watch for a major offensive against other areas of Ukraine. It does not mean that the threat to Kyiv is over,” he added.
US President Joe Biden said he wasn’t convinced that Russia’s promise to cut back military operations around Kyiv will lead to a significant change in the conflict.
“We’ll see if they follow through,” he told reporters after holding a phone call with the leaders of Britain, France, Germany, and Italy.
“There seems to be a consensus that let’s just see what they have to offer.”
Russian negotiators pledged to scale back hostilities near Kyiv and the city of Chernihiv during talks with Ukraine in Turkey on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the conditions for carrying out a humanitarian operation sought by France to help civilians in the besieged port city of Mariupol have not been met “at this stage,” French President Emmanuel Macron’s office said.
The French leader spoke to his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in a phone call on Tuesday.
Macron had outlined the mission sought alongside Turkey and Greece to Putin, who said “he was going to think about it” before responding, an Elysee Palace official said.
Mariupol has been one of the worst struck cities since the start of the Ukraine war with the local mayor saying it is now “on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe.”
The Russian president also told Macron that Ukrainian “nationalists” in besieged Mariupol must lay down their arms.
“It was stressed that in order to resolve the difficult humanitarian situation in this city (Mariupol), Ukrainian nationalist militants must stop resisting and lay down their arms,” the Kremlin said in a statement about the call.
The two presidents also discussed Russia’s decision to request payments in rubles for Russian gas supplies to the EU, the statement added.
The head of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic a part of Ukraine controlled by Russian-backed separatists since 2014 has said the region will consider joining Russia, according to the Donetsk News Agency.
“As for joining the Russian Federation, as for this wish and drive, they have been obvious since 2014 — the wish to be in Russia,” Denis Pushilin said.
Moscow recognized the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics on February 24, just days before Russian troops invaded Ukraine.
Pushilin’s comments come two days after Russian-backed rebels in Luhansk said they may hold a referendum on joining Russia. Kyiv said such a move would not have legal basis and warned of an international response.