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The United States says Russia has withdrawn two-thirds of Kyiv's forces

The United States says Russia has withdrawn two-thirds of Kyiv’s forces

Russia has repositioned about two-thirds of its forces from outside Kyiv, a senior Russian official said on Monday, with many troops reinforced in Belarus, where they are expected to be re-equipped, resupplied and redeployed elsewhere in Ukraine.

Over the weekend, Ukraine said its forces had taken control of all areas around Kyiv, claiming full control of the capital region for the first time since Russia launched the invasion.

The US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters that the US estimated that prior to the withdrawal there were just under 20 tactical battalions concentrated in Kyiv. The number represented less than a sixth of the tactical battalions that the Kremlin deployed for the invasion.

“We still estimate that the vast majority of the more than 125 tactical battalions the Russians invested in this invasion are still in Ukraine,” the official said.

The official estimated that Russian forces that withdrew from Kyiv would likely be redirected to eastern Ukraine, but this has yet to be confirmed.

“We still believe that they will be re-equipped, resupplied and possibly additional manpower, and then sent back to Ukraine to continue the fight elsewhere,” he said.

As Russian forces regroup for battle in eastern Ukraine, cities around Kyiv bear the scars of five weeks of fighting.

The discovery after Russian troops withdrew from a mass grave, bound bodies were shot at close range in Bucha outside Kyiv, sparked global outrage and should prompt the United States and Europe to impose additional sanctions on Moscow.

The mayor of Bucha, 37 km northwest of Kyiv, said Russian forces had killed 300 residents while Chechen fighters were in control.

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The Kremlin denied allegations of killing civilians in the city.

A US defense source said the US military is not in a position to independently confirm Ukrainian reports of atrocities committed by Russian forces against civilians in Bucha, but it also has no reason to contest the allegations.