Ukraine War: Russia Is Falling Back From Kyiv—Defense Minister

Russian forces will fall back from Kyiv and "radically" scale down their military operations around the capital and northern city Chernihiv, Russia's Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin announced on Tuesday.

"In order to increase mutual trust and create the necessary conditions for further negotiations and achieving the ultimate goal of agreeing and signing (an) agreement, a decision was made to radically, by a large margin, reduce military activity in the Kyiv and Chernihiv directions," Fomin told reporters.

Vladimir Medinsky, the head of the Russian delegation in Turkey for the peace talks with Ukraine, said that the drawdown was one of two steps his government was taking as part of an apparent de-escalation of the conflict, which has now entered its 34th day.

The second step involves a potential meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which the Russian officials indicated could take place "simultaneously with initialing the peace agreement."

Russia had previously said that a meeting between the presidents would not be able to happen until a later point. Medinsky also indicated that his government would consider Ukraine's proposals that involve the country becoming neutral in exchange for security guarantees.

"These proposals will be considered in the near future, reported to the president, and our response will be given," Medinsky said, referring to Putin.

He also told reporters that the format for talks would include Putin and Zelensky.

"The proposed format is like this: First an agreement will be drafted, then the agreement will be approved by the negotiators and signed by the foreign ministers at a meeting, and then the possibility of a meeting between the heads of state will be discussed in order to sign this agreement," Medinsky said.

Ukrainian negotiator David Arakhamia also indicated to ABC News on Tuesday that the two presidents could join the peace talks soon if progress is made.

Russia launched what Putin described as a "special military operation" on February 24 and the country's forces have faced fierce Ukrainian opposition as the conflict has entered its second month.

The U.S. and its allies have imposed stringent sanctions on Russia, including cutting the country off from the SWIFT international payments system and freezing around $300 billion in foreign exchange and gold reserves held by the Central Bank of Russia, among a raft of other measures.

Ukraine has also received significant amounts of humanitarian and military aid from the U.S., NATO and others, including Javelin anti-tank missiles and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles.

Update 03/29/22 11.13 a.m. E.T.: This article was updated to include more information.

A Ukrainian Soldier in the Kyiv Region
A Ukrainian soldier stands in a village on the frontline of the northern part of Kyiv region, on March 28, 2022. Russia has announced it will reduce its military operations around the cities of Kyiv and Chernihiv. Anatolii Stepanov / AFP/Getty Images