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Russian shelling continues in Chernihiv and troops remain in Kyiv despite withdrawal, claims UK intelligence



Russian shelling has continued in the northern city of Chernihiv while troops continue to hold positions near Kyiv despite Moscow’s claim it would drastically reduce its presence around the areas, the UK’s Ministry of Defence has said.

Russian forces continue to hold positions to the east and west of Kyiv despite the withdrawal of a limited number of units, the MoD said in its latest intelligence update. “Heavy fighting will likely take place in the suburbs of the city in coming days.”

Significant shelling and airstrikes continued in Chernihiv, the ministry added, while heavy fighting has continued in the besieged southeastern city of Mariupol, where up to 170,000 people remain trapped with no access to water, food or power.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an overnight address that any movement of Russian troops is “the consequence of our defenders’ works,” rather than a withdrawal.

Ukraine is preparing for new strikes on the pro-Russian separatist region of Donbas, Mr Zelensky said, after Russia said during peace talks in Turkey on Tuesday that it would radically cut its presence around the capital to concentrate on “liberating” the eastern separatist areas in Donbas.

But Ukraine is seeing “a build-up of Russian forces for new strikes on the Donbas and we are preparing for that,” the Ukrainian leader has said, five weeks into Russia’s land, air and sea invasion of its former Soviet neighbour.

The invasion has so far driven more than 3.5 million people from their homes, killed thousands, sent global oil prices soaring and brought Russian-Western tensions to their worst point since the Cold War.

Tough resistance by Ukrainian forces has prevented Russia from capturing any major city, including Kyiv, where a Russian armed column was held back for weeks.

The head of Britain’s GCHQ spy service said new intelligence showed some Russian soldiers had refused to carry out orders, sabotaged their own equipment and accidentally shot down one of their own aircraft.

Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) chief Jeremy Fleming said that Russian President Vladimir Putin had “massively misjudged” the capabilities of Russia’s once mighty armed forces while underestimating both the resistance of the Ukrainian people and the resolve of the West, which has punished Moscow with largely coordinated sanctions.

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“Putin has massively misjudged the situation,” Mr Fleming said in a speech in Canberra at the Australian National University, according to a transcript of his remarks. “We believe Putin’s advisers are afraid to tell him the truth.”

At the same time, the US has claimed that Mr Putin is being “misled” by Russian officials over the dire status of the nation’s war efforts in Ukraine because they are terrified to tell him the truth.

“We have information that Putin felt misled by the Russian military, which has resulted in persistent tension between Putin and his military leadership,” Kate Bedingfield, White House communications director, told reporters during a press briefing.

“We believe that Putin is being misinformed by his advisers about how badly the Russian military is performing and how the Russian economy is being crippled by sanctions because his senior advisors are too afraid to tell him the truth,” she added.

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