“We judge the Russian military machine by its actions, not just its words,” British Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab likewise told Sky News. “There’s obviously some skepticism that it will regroup to attack again rather than seriously engaging in diplomacy.” He added: “Of course, the door to diplomacy will always be left ajar, but I don’t think you can trust what is coming out of the mouth of Putin’s war machine.”

Russian forces bombarded areas around Kyiv and another city, just hours after pledging to scale back military operations in those places to help negotiations along, Ukrainian authorities said Wednesday, AP reports.

The shelling — and intensified Russian attacks on other parts of the country — tempered optimism about any progress in the talks aimed at ending the punishing war.

In announcing plans Tuesday to de-escalate near the capital and the northern city of Chernihiv to “increase mutual trust,” Russia’s military did not spell out what it planned to do, and the move was met with deep suspicion from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the West.

Soon after, Ukrainian officials said Russian shelling hit homes, stores, libraries and other civilian sites in Chernihiv and on the outskirts of Kyiv. Russian troops also stepped up their attacks around the eastern city of Izyum and the eastern Donetsk region, after redeploying some units from other areas, the Ukrainian side said.

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