Russian forces have begun withdrawing from Ukraine’s northern Chernihiv Oblast, according to the local governor.
Earlier this week, Russia said it would “drastically” reduce military operations in Chernihiv and near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. Ukrainian media has reported that Russian troops have continued to “partially withdraw” from areas around Kyiv.
Chernihiv Governor Viacheslav Chaus said that while Russian troops were leaving the area, strikes were still possible. “Air and missile strikes are possible in the region, nobody is ruling this out,” he said.
Russia said it would withdraw from the areas on Tuesday after a session of in-person peace talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials that were held in Istanbul. On Friday, the warring parties resumed virtual talks.
Ukraine and its Western backers have portrayed Russia’s withdrawal from the northern regions as Moscow retreating and narrowing its military goals. But the Russian military has said that its main goals of the “first stage” of its invasion are completed and that it is now focusing on “liberating” the eastern Donbas region.
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said the goal of the “first stage” was to limit the capabilities of Ukraine’s armed forces so Russia could focus on the Donbas. “Ukraine’s armed forces have sustained substantial losses. Air supremacy has been achieved. The air force and the air defense system have been practically eliminated,” he said.