Russian units suffering “heavy losses” in Ukraine have been forced to return to Belarus and Russia to “reorganize and resupply” as logistical problems continue to plague Moscow’s offensive, the UK’s defense ministry said on Wednesday, amid widespread US and Ukrainian skepticism over Russia’s claims it will scale back operations near Kyiv.

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The activity adds pressure to Russia’s “already strained logistics” in Ukraine and demonstrates the difficulties Moscow is having “reorganizing its units in forward areas within Ukraine,” the UK defense ministry said.

Russia will likely make up for the reduced mobility with mass artillery and missile strikes, the defense ministry warned.

The defense ministry said Russia’s new stated focus on Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, where the separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk are located, is likely a “tacit admission that it is struggling to sustain more than one significant axis of advance.”

Late Tuesday, the agency said repeated setbacks and successful counter attacks by Ukrainian forces mean it is “almost certain” that Russia has failed to encircle Kyiv and troop movements away from the area could indicate acceptance it has “lost the initiative” in the region.

At peace talks on Tuesday, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin said Russia will “fundamentally” reduce military activity around Kyiv and northern Ukraine, though US officials urged caution until Moscow showed stronger signs of de-escalation.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the claims may be intended to “deflect and deceive” from Russia’s true intentions, with Pentagon and John Kirby noting that the Russian troop movements could be a “repositioning” of forces.


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