RUSSIA,UKRAINE,: Russian forces are making a ‘rapid retreat’ from Ukraine capital Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv – areas from which it said military activity would be scaled back to build trust for peace talks – Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhaylo Podolyak said Saturday, Podolyak, however, struck a warning note with his next remark, saying the retreat made it ‘completely clear Russia is prioritising a different tactic – falling back on the east and south’.
“With the rapid retreat of Russians from Kyiv and Chernihiv regions… it is completely clear Russia is prioritising a different tactic: falling back on the east and south,” he said.
Podolyak claimed that though Russian forces were pulling back, their aim was to ‘control a vast stretch of occupied territory and set up in a powerful way’. Russia planned to ‘dig in, set up air defence (and)… dictate terms’, he tweeted.
Meanwhile, Ukraine spends about US$10 billion per month on the conflict with Russia, the presidential press service said.
“The Ukrainian state spends about US$10 billion a month on hostilities,” said a statement on the Ukrainian presidential website on Saturday, citing data from the Ministry of Finance.
Among Ukraine’s sources of expenditure financing, the statement named the country’s own tax revenues and assistance from Ukraine’s international partners, Xinhua news agency reported. The military conflict between Ukraine and Russia started on February 24.
Meanwhile, A new poll released Thursday indicates that Russian President Vladimir Putin has strong support at home, with his approval rating increasing even as critics note that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has not gone according to the leader’s plan after more than a month of war.
March findings by The Levada Center, an independent, nongovernmental Russian polling organization, show that Putin’s approval percentage actually rose from 71% last month to 83%. Approval of the Russian government as a whole increased 15 percentage points from February to March.
A strong majority of respondents – 69% – also believe that Russia is moving in the right direction, after just over 50% believed so in February. About a fifth of those surveyed say that the country is on the wrong path. The poll from the center – widely considered among the only credible pollsters operating in Russia and which years ago was included in the country’s register of noncommercial organizations acting as foreign agents – reached 1,632 Russian adults over a weeklong span in late March. – THE HINDUSTAN TIMES, IANS, THE STRAITS TIMES