Russian forces appear to be withdrawing from the Ukrainian capital region

Russian forces are withdrawing from some suburbs around the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, multiple media and analyst reports said on Saturday.

Ukrainian officials said Russian troops were retreating under fire, while reports from towns and villages near kyiv provided further evidence of a Russian withdrawal, the New York Times Noted. On Friday, Ukrainian forces were able to guide journalists to the town of Irpin, which has seen heavy fighting throughout the war.

A video from the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs showed buildings in Irpin with windows smashed and riddled with bullets, as well as an evacuation of elderly civilians:

There have been several reports from around Kyiv of bodies lying in the streets and the remains of abandoned or destroyed army vehicles.

It is unclear how Kyiv’s apparent withdrawal will affect the course of the Russian invasion, which began six weeks ago with Russian President Vladimir Putin calling for “denazification” of Ukraine. US officials estimate that 10,000 Russian soldiers died in the fighting, while it is not known how many Ukrainian soldiers lost their lives.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video message on Friday that towns around kyiv are likely to continue to be targeted by missile strikes and warned of mines being laid in the area.

“It is still not possible to return to normal life, as before, even in the territories that we take back after the fighting,” Zelensky said, according to The Associated Press. “We have to wait for our land to be cleared, wait for us to be able to assure you that there will be no new bombardments.”

Oleksiy Arestovych, a senior adviser to Zelensky, warned on Saturday that Ukraine faces tough battles in the south and east of the country.

“We have to get rid of illusions: we stand in front of difficult fights in the south, Mariupol, for the east of Ukraine,” Arestovych told national television, the Washington Post reported.

The southern port city of Mariupol has been besieged by Russian forces for weeks, with shortages of water, food and other basic necessities. It is estimated that around 100,000 people remain in the city, which was home to over 400,000 before the war.

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Christi C. Elwood