Russia on Wednesday played down hopes of a breakthrough in peace with Ukraine, a day after delegations from both sides held talks over the ongoing invasion. Speaking to reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia had “not noticed anything too promising or that looked like a breakthrough” during the Istanbul talks. Welcoming the proposal of listing out demands by Ukraine, Peskov said, “Moscow considered it ‘positive’ that Kyiv had started outlining its demands in writing. There is still a lot of work remains before a deal is possible.”

After several rounds of failed negotiations, the peace talks made little progress on Tuesday after Russia prom

ised it would scale back its military operations near Kyiv and Chernihiv. However, on Wednesday, the shelling by Russian forces continued in the north and west of Kyiv, despite Russia’s declaration.

After Tuesday’s talks, Moscow also held out the prospect of direct talks between Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, something Kyiv has long sought. In the proposal submitted by Ukraine, Kyiv hinted at dropping NATO aspirations in exchange for legally binding security guarantees from western countries.

Meanwhile, highlighting that Russian forces have moved away from Ukraine’s capital Kyiv “in the last day or so,” Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby on Tuesday (local time) said that he believes this is a “repositioning”, not a “real withdrawal”. “Has there been some movement by some Russian units away from Kyiv in the last day or so? Yeah. We think so. Small numbers,” said Kirby during a briefing. “But we believe that this is a repositioning, not a real withdrawal, and that we all should be prepared to watch for a major offensive against other areas of Ukraine,” he added.

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy today to discuss the USA’s continued support for Ukraine. President Biden informed Zelenskyy that the US intends to provide the Ukrainian government with $500 million in direct budgetary aid.