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Biden: West Waiting to See Whether Russia De-Escalates Attacks in Ukraine

Pro-Russian forces in Ukraine
Pro-Russian forces in Ukraine

PENTAGON — U.S. President Joe Biden said Tuesday that Western allied nations are waiting to see whether Russia will fulfill a commitment to de-escalate attacks around the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv.

"We'll see if they follow through," Biden said after speaking by telephone with leaders of the United Kingdom, France and Italy. "There seems to be a consensus that let's just see what they have to offer."

Biden's comments to reporters at the White House came after Russia's military said earlier Tuesday at the latest round of peace talks in Turkey that it would cut back operations around Kyiv and Chernihiv.

Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin said the move was meant to "increase trust" in the talks aimed at ending the fighting.

The Pentagon confirmed that "a small number" of Russian forces had begun to move away from Kyiv but offered even more skepticism than the president.

"We believe that this is a repositioning, not a real withdrawal," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters at the Pentagon.

"We're not convinced that the threat to the capital city has been radically diminished here by this proclamation by the Russian Ministry of Defense," he added.

Advances by Russian forces have stalled in the face of fierce opposition by Ukrainian fighters.