Russia’s pledge to scale back from a few areas in Ukraine has left several people cynical, including NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg who believes that the attacks will persist in the coming days despite a so-called “withdrawal”. 

“What we see is not a real withdrawal. But we see that Russia is repositioning its troops and they are taking some of them back to rearm them, to reinforce them, to resupply them. We should not in a way be too optimistic because the attacks will continue,” Stoltenberg told CNN on Sunday. 

Stoltenberg’s cynical take comes after the Ukrainian government reported that Kyiv’s entire region has been “liberated” from Russian forces. “Irpin, Bucha, Gostomel and the whole Kyiv region was liberated from the invader,” Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said in a statement on Facebook. 

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However, in the past few days, Ukrainian forces have managed to regain control of the suburbs surrounding Kyiv, with the Russian military claiming that it is “de-escalating” around the capital city. 

The intergovernmental military alliance is “also concerned about potential increased attacks especially in the south and in the east,” Stoltenberg said, adding that the scale back “is not a real withdrawal but more a shift in the strategy, focusing more on the south and east.”

Following the Russian attack in Bucha on Sunday, the chief called the deaths of civilians “a brutality” that hasn’t been seen in Europe “for decades.”

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“It is a brutality against civilians we haven’t seen in Europe for decades. And it’s horrific and it’s absolutely unacceptable that civilians are targeted and killed. And it just underlines the importance that this war must end,” he told CNN.