Russian strikes rock Ukrainian cities despite pledge to ease attacks

A day after Russia vowed to draw down some troops around Kyiv, there's been no let-up in the bombardment across Ukraine. The U.S. said Russia began repositioning some forces arrayed around the capital, but is expected to redeploy them elsewhere. Meantime, new U.S. intelligence suggests President Putin's aides have misinformed him on Ukraine, raising tensions inside the Kremlin. Ali Rogin reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    A day after Russia vowed to draw-down some of its troops around Kyiv, there has been no letup in the bombardment across Ukraine.

    New strikes have rocked civilian areas in the north and the southeast. The U.S. said that Russia started to reposition fewer than 20 percent of its forces arrayed around the capital, but officials cautioned that Moscow is expected to redeploy them elsewhere.

    Meantime, various reports say new U.S. intelligence suggests that Putin's military and intelligence aides have misinformed him on Ukraine, adding to tension inside the Kremlin.

    Ali Rogin begins our coverage.

  • Ali Rogin:

    Russia said it would scale back its offensive, but the destruction overnight tells a different story.

    Viacheslav Chaus, Governor of Chernihiv, Ukraine (through translator): Yesterday, Russians have publicly stated that they are decreasing their offensive and activity toward Chernihiv and Kyiv directions. Do we believe this? Of course not.

  • Ali Rogin:

    Attacks against key infrastructure also continue. In the Western city of Khmelnytskyi, three strikes hit a fuel storage facility. Further south, heavy shelling continued in the southern separatist-controlled city of Donetsk. The separatists blamed Ukraine.

  • Anna Gorda, Donetsk Resident (through translator):

    I was just sitting on the couch and, bang, the window glass popped, the frames came off, I didn't even understand what happened.

  • Ali Rogin:

    It all happened as Russia claimed it would refocus its campaign in the eastern Donbass region. But Russian losses continue to mount.

    And, today, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said President Putin was being misled about Moscow's military performance.

    Antony Blinken, U.S. Secretary of State: One of the Achilles' heels of autocracies is that you don't have people in those systems who speak truth to power or who have the ability to speak truth to power. And I think that is something that we're seeing in Russia.

  • Ali Rogin:

    U.S. and British officials believe it is likely that Russia will divert more troops to the Donbass. But as troops move away from Kyiv, airstrikes will continue.

  • Natan Sharansky, Former Anti-Soviet Dissident:

    It's extremely sad. It's extremely unjust. And, again, your feeling it's not only the struggle for these pieces of land where you grew, the struggle for what will be the rules on which we are building our free world.

  • Ali Rogin:

    Natan Sharansky was an anti-Soviet human rights activist who was born in Donetsk. He was arrested in the '70s over charges of treason and espionage, and sentenced to 13 years of forced labor.

    After his release in 1986, he was allowed to move to Israel in a prisoner swap, where he became a politician. Now he's an advocate, visiting Washington for meetings with Jewish leaders and lawmakers. He says the Ukrainians tell him they are skeptical of talks, but still want to sit with Putin.

  • Natan Sharansky:

    They're very suspicious that Russians are only trying to gain the time, because they found that their military concept is not working. They want very much there will be direct conversation between Putin and Zelenskyy, because they believe that all the real, rational arguments are on their side.

    But do they really believe that that will solve the problem? No, they believe only that the Russian force has to be answered by the force. And that's why they are praying and begging, asking it, appealing to the West, give us the weapons to fight.

  • Ali Rogin:

    Presidents Biden and Zelenskyy spoke today, including about the weapons the U.S. has already provided. The U.S. says those arms have had — quote — "critical effects" on the conflict. Mr. Biden also pledged to give an additional $500 million in aid.

    And diplomacy continued in Turkey, but with little progress towards peace. Ukraine submitted its requests, including a pledge to renounce its bid to join NATO if Russia withdraws its troops, in exchange for NATO-style security guarantees, and a 15-year negotiation period on the status of Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.

    Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the list was a good start, but that the path to peace remained long.

    Dmitry Peskov, Spokesman for Vladimir Putin (through translator): This is a positive factor. As for the rest, so far, let's say, we cannot state anything very promising, any breakthroughs. There is still a lot of work to be done.

  • Ali Rogin:

    Meanwhile, Europe continues to reduce its dependence on Russian energy. Today, Poland announced new steps to cut off all Russian gas imports by the end of the year, which account for more than half of its supply.

    Poland also hosts half of the four million people now estimated to have fled Ukraine since the invasion began. The U.N. believes another 6.5 million people are displaced inside Ukraine.

    Evacuees from the besieged city of Mariupol have taken shelter in a supermarket more than 120 miles away in Zaporizhzhia. It's been temporarily transformed into a center for refugees.

  • Kateryna Semenuk, Mariupol Evacuee (through translator):

    There is no Mariupol anymore. They bombed it completely.

  • Ali Rogin:

    Zaporizhzhia is also now home to this young boy, being treated for wounds sustained in the Mariupol bombardment. He's crying out for his father.

    The good news? His father survived and is just receiving treatment elsewhere in the hospital. But as negotiators talk and bombs fall, there will be many more families waking up to tragedy.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Ali Rogin.

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