The Russian forces have reportedly bombed Chernihiv, a besieged city in northern Ukraine, a day after the Russian negotiators pledged that they would be easing and reducing attacks on that specific region.

According to Chernihiv Mayor Vladyslav Atroshenko, the Russians bombed their city again, and the attacks had only increased over the past day. Reuters reported that more than 100,000 people are still trapped in the city. According to their report, the city’s food and medical supplies will only last just another week.

Following the bombings in Chernihiv, Atroshenko said that the intensified bombings were another evidence that “Russia always lies,” according to an interview he gave with CNN. “They actually have increased the intensity of strikes,” he added.

“The night was just as we expected, that [everything Russia promised] is a lie from the beginning till the end, that’s why at night we had some serious shelling at night. And the Russians were trying to destroy all possible means of crossing Desna River towards Kyiv.”

As of writing, the Russians allegedly continued to attack and encircle the city. He also reported that there was a legitimate humanitarian crisis in Chernihiv, saying that there was no electricity, no water, and no heating as the city’s gas was depleted and only accessible to certain parts of the area. The mayor went on a rant about how Russians were liars and that they were purposefully killing civilians, and they were continually being bombed with 120mm mines.

“Have you ever met liars in your life? What stands behind their lies? They are just liars. They lie all the time! [Sergei] Lavrov [the Russian foreign minister] lies that this is just an ‘operation,’ Russian military lies when they say that this ‘operation’ is against the armed forces of Ukraine, and we say that they purposefully are destroying civilians, they purposefully dropping bombs on civilians in broad daylight at low heights, they are bombing us with 120mm mines and you know this is not a precise weapons, it’s just bombing the entire city.”

This comes after the Russo-Ukrainian peace talks seemed to be moving forward positively, showing signs of progress as the two delegations met in Istanbul in their first face-to-face meeting after weeks of fighting. Both camps described the talks as “constructive” as Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin announced that they would be “gradually” scaling back their military activities in Kyiv and Chernihiv in Northern Ukraine. However, at the same time, they emphasized that this was not a cease-fire and was merely a “confidence-building de-escalation step.”

“In order to increase mutual trust and create the necessary conditions for further negotiations and for achieving the ultimate goal of ratifying and signing [an] agreement, a decision was made to significantly, by a large margin, reduce military activity,” Formin said.

Formin did not mention any updates regarding fighting in Mariupol, Sumy, Kharkiv, Kherson, and Mykolaiv. It can be remembered that  Mariupol city officials reported that 80% of the city had been destroyed. It was in Trostyanets, Sumy, where the Russians had suffered monumental losses, including their “elite” 4th Guards Tank Division. Another Russian Colonel, Denys Kurilo, was also killed near Kharkiv along with what remained of the 200th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade.

Ukrainian city of Mariupol bombed by Russians (MFA of Ukraine). Source:
The Ukrainian city of Mariupol was bombed by Russians (MFA of Ukraine | Twitter)

Perhaps contributing to the perceived progress of the peace talks, the Russian delegation also stated that direct talks between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin could possibly happen. This statement was unprecedented as Putin was reportedly annoyed at Zelensky when Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich (who is allegedly working for the Ukrainian side as a de facto peace negotiator) delivered a handwritten note to Putin from Zelensky outlining Ukraine’s own conditions for ending the war.

“Tell him I will thrash them,” Putin reportedly said.

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It can also be remembered that members of the Ukrainian peace negotiators and Roman Abramovich himself had suffered alleged poisoning after it was reported that they suffered symptoms of poisoning following their meeting in Kyiv last March 3. He had allegedly suffered temporary blindness after the meeting.

Bellingcat also confirmed the reports, saying on Twitter that they could confirm that three members of the delegation who attended peace talks between Ukraine and Russia experienced symptoms of suspected poisoning with chemical weapons. According to chemical weapons experts that they consulted, the symptoms were consistent with porphyrin, organophosphates, or bicyclic substances.

In response to the Russians allegedly pulling back from Northern Ukraine, Zelensky stated that there was no reason to believe Russia. He doubts that they would reduce their military activities based on what was currently happening. It seems that he was not wrong, as Russian shelling continued in the aforementioned city.

“Ukrainians are not naive people,” Zelensky boldly said. “Ukrainians have already learned during the 34 days of the invasion and during the past eight years of war in the Donbas that you can trust only concrete results.”

In response to the peace talks specifically, he said that:

“Yes, we can call those signals that we hear at the negotiations positive. But those signals don’t silence the explosions of Russian shells,” the President said. “Of course, we see the risks. Of course, we don’t see any basis for trusting the words voiced by those or other representatives of the [Russian] state that is continuing to fight for our destruction.”

While small numbers of Russian troops were seen to be moving out from Northern Ukraine, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby also warned that the Russians might attack other parts of Ukraine, saying, “We all should be prepared to watch for a major offensive against other areas of Ukraine. It does not mean that the threat to Kyiv is over.” Additionally, Ukrainian officials also warned that the withdrawal of troops was merely just a rotation of units.

President Biden also expressed his skepticism of the so-called pullout, saying, “We’ll see… I don’t read anything into it until I see what their actions are.” Furthermore, White House communications director Kate Bedingfield also gave her thoughts about the matter, agreeing with the Ukrainian officials that the movement of Russian forces was merely a “redeployment and not a withdrawal” and that nobody should believe or be fooled by the announcement.