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giving peace a chance?

Russia to 'reduce military activity' in northern Ukraine as peace talks progress

Russia has agreed to "reduce military activity" around its key objectives in northern Ukraine, a Russian deputy defense minister said Tuesday, according to The New York Times.

Specifically, the deputy minister said Russia will scale back its assaults on Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv. If Russian forces keep their word, this de-escalation will represent the first major sign that ongoing peace talks in Istanbul are bearing fruit.

Russian troops have suffered heavy losses and have struggled to capture major Ukrainian cities. In recent days, Ukraine's military has even launched successful counterattacks in the Kyiv suburbs.

The Russian announcement made no mention of the campaign in southern Ukraine, where Russian forces have either entirely or almost entirely captured the strategically located port city of Mariupol.  

Per the Times, head Russian negotiator Vladimir Medinsky said Russia is open to a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky once a draft peace agreement has been finalized.

Earlier this month, Slate described Medinsky, a former culture minister, as "an ultraconservative nationalist firebrand" whose selection to lead the Russian delegation suggested Putin was "not serious" about reaching a negotiated peace.

The two delegations have also discussed concessions over disputed Ukrainian territory in the Donbas and Crimea as well as international security guarantees for Ukraine, the Times reported.