Ukraine conflict: Shelling and missile strikes continue in Chernihiv despite Russian 'withdrawal'

UK defence intelligence analysts said “significant” shelling and missile strikes have continued around the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv, despite Russia’s indications it would cut back military activity in the area.

Thursday, 31st March 2022, 8:37 am

The UK's Ministry of Defence (MoD) has released its latest intelligence update on Russia's assault on Ukraine.

The MoD says despite Moscow saying it plans to scale back its military activity around the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv, "significant Russian shelling and missile strikes have continued".

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In an intelligence update, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) tweeted: “Despite Russian statements indicating an intended reduction of military activity around Chernihiv, significant Russian shelling and missile strikes have continued.

“Russian forces continue to hold positions to the east and west of Kyiv despite the withdrawal of a limited number of units. Heavy fighting will likely take place in the suburbs of the city in coming days.

“Heavy fighting continues in Mariupol, a key objective of Russian forces, however Ukrainian forces remain in control of the centre of the city.”

The head of the UK's cyber and security agency, GCHQ also said in a rare interview that Russia has massively misjudged the situation in Ukraine and some of Vladimir Putin’s advisers were not telling him the truth.

Korolenko Chernihiv Regional Universal Scientific Library is seen damaged by night shelling in Chernihiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 30, 2022. Ukrainian officials say Russian forces pounded areas around Kyiv and another Ukrainian city overnight. The attacks come hours after Moscow pledged to scale back military operations in those places. (AP Photo/Vladislav Savenok)

Sir Jeremy Fleming, speaking during a visit to Australia said that Russian soldiers – short of weapons and morale – had refused to carry out orders and even accidentally shot down their own aircraft.

He said: “It’s clear he misjudged the resistance of the Ukrainian people.

“He underestimated the strength of the coalition his actions would galvanise. He under-played the economic consequences of the sanctions regime. He over-estimated the abilities of his military to secure a rapid victory.

“We’ve seen Russian soldiers – short of weapons and morale – refusing to carry out orders, sabotaging their own equipment and even accidentally shooting down their own aircraft.

“And even though we believe Putin’s advisers are afraid to tell him the truth, what’s going on and the extent of these misjudgements must be crystal clear to the regime.”

He added: “It’s become his personal war, with the cost being paid by innocent people in Ukraine and increasingly, by ordinary Russians too.”

Sir Jeremy said western allies were making “deeply secret intelligence” public to get ahead of Mr Putin’s information war, while also tackling cyber threats.