“There is what Russia says and there is what Russia does, and we’re focused on the latter,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in Morocco. “And what Russia is doing is the continued brutalization of Ukraine.”

Russia announced Tuesday it will “fundamentally” scale back military operations near Ukraine’s capital and a northern city, as talks to end the grinding war brought the outlines of a possible deal into view.

Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin said the change on the battlefield was meant to increase trust at the talks after several rounds of negotiations failed to halt what has devolved into a bloody campaign of attrition.

The announcement was met with skepticism from the U.S. and others.

While Moscow portrayed it as a goodwill gesture, its ground troops have become bogged down and taken heavy losses in their bid to seize Kyiv and other cities. Last week and again on Tuesday, the Kremlin seemed to lower its war aims, saying its “main goal” now is gaining control of the mostly Russian-speaking Donbas region in eastern Ukraine.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he had not seen anything indicating talks were progressing in a “constructive way,” and he suggested Russian indications of a pullback could be an attempt by Moscow to “deceive people and deflect attention.”

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