Zelenskyy warns of impending Russian attacks on Ukraine's eastern front, says Moscow's claims of military pullback cannot be trusted

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy meet Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Petr Fiala (not seen), Prime Minister of Poland, Mateusz Morawiecki (not seen) and Prime Minister of Slovenia, Janez Jansa (not seen) during their visit in Kyiv on behalf of EU Council, on March 16, 2022. The Czech, Polish, and Slovenian prime ministers arrived in Ukraine's capital Kyiv on Tuesday in a show of support for the country as it fights a war with Russia, according to their Ukrainian counterpart.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned of new Russian attacks from the Donbas region.Ukrainian Presidency/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned of a possible new wave of Russian attacks coming from the east.

  • In a video address on Wednesday, he said he did not trust Moscow's claims of a military pullback.

  • "We do not believe anyone, not a single beautiful phrase," Zelenskyy said, as translated by AFP.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned on Wednesday evening of a new impending Russian attack on his nation's eastern front, saying he does not trust Moscow's earlier claims that it would be scaling back its assault.

In a video address translated by Agence France-Presse, Zelenskyy noted the "so-called withdrawal of Russian troops Kyiv and Chernigiv," both cities in northern Ukraine.

"But at the same time, we see the accumulation of Russian troops for new strikes in Donbas," he said. "We are getting ready for this."

The Donbas region in eastern Ukraine is partially controlled by Russian-backed separatists who have been fighting the Ukrainian army for the last eight years.

Ukraine's chief of military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, had said on Sunday that Russia's new plan might be to split Ukraine into "occupied and unoccupied regions," per The Associated Press.

The Ukrainian city of Mariupol, which is located south of the Donbas, has also been a critical target for Russia's advance. If taken, the city would allow Russia to establish a land bridge between the annexed Crimea region and the Donbas.

On Tuesday, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin said that the Kremlin would scale back its assaults on Ukraine's northern front. According to Fomin, the move aimed to "increase mutual trust and create the necessary conditions for further negotiations and achieving the ultimate goal of agreeing on the signing of the above [peace] agreement."

In the video on Wednesday, Zelenskyy expressed his government's doubts regarding Russia's proclamations.

"We know that this is not a withdrawal, but the consequence of exile, the consequences of the work of our defenders," he said.

"We don't believe anyone, not a single beautiful phrase," Zelenskyy. "There's a real situation on the battlefield, and that's the most important thing."

The Ukrainian military and the Pentagon have expressed skepticism over Russia's withdrawal claims, saying it was more likely that Moscow was repositioning its troops for a later offensive.

An intelligence report from the UK released on Thursday also noted that Russian forces had pulled back a "limited number of units" near Kyiv, but still holds positions to the east and west of the capital.

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