Russian Troops on highway

On Sunday morning, Ukrainian presidential advisor Oleksiy Arestovych commented during a briefing that “the next week or two could determine the outcome” of the current conflict in Ukraine.

After thirty-nine days of fighting and violence in Ukraine, reports hold that the larger Russian army has been surprisingly stymied by the smaller Ukrainian military’s determination and willingness to hold their homeland rather than surrender to Vladimir Putin’s attempt to take the country. The Kyiv Independent reports that at least 18,000 Russian troops have been lost during the last month of conflict, along with a number of tanks, planes, and other military losses.

The AFP News Agency is reporting that Moscow has verbally agreed to the demands of Ukraine, citing comments made by David Arakharmia, the chief negotiator. Arakhamia reported that the Russian Federation agreed to all offers, with the exclusion of Ukraine’s position on Crimea. Arakhamia added that while a written agreement has not been drafted and signed, he is confident that this will come soon. This comes amid reports that the Russian military has been retreating from areas of Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital city. However, U.S. military experts warn that this shouldn’t be seen as a retreat, but as a “repositioning” of troops.

Although peace talks have been ongoing between both Ukrainian and Russian delegations, fighting has been ongoing in the Ukraine, particularly near the port city of Mariupol. Arestovych said the end of the conflict could depend upon whether Mariupol is able to stand against Russian assaults from both the sea and land. If Mariupol falls, that could bode detrimental to the rest of Ukraine.

Arestovych told the Ukrinform that Mariupol’s ability to stand gives hope to the other cities under siege by Russian forces. ” . . .The next week or two will be uneven. There will be reports that we are winning, counterattacking and repelling in some areas. We are liberating our lands from the enemy.”

However, the Ukrainian presidential advisor also lamented that some negative reports could be detrimental to the resolve of the Ukrainian people. “It’s complicated,” said Arestovych.

Sunday morning, multiple news outlets are reporting on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s nightly address, during which Zelenskyy commented that Russian forces are vacating areas north of Kyiv. Zelenskyy’s comments, however, have not been independently verified. Zelenskyy said that the retreating Russians are leaving “traps” along the way, which Ukrainian forces are looking to avoid. Some of these traps involve civilian bodies left laying in the streets, mines around residential areas, and abandoned equipment.

In an effort to keep Ukrainian troops safe while removing the bodies of the deceased, Ukrainian soldiers are using cables to pull the bodies from town.

A reporter working for Reuters was able to accompany a police officer to tour the area of Bucha. This reporter revealed that Russian troops killed over 300 civilians and “left bodies scattered around the town.” The reporter also shared that many of the bodies appeared to have been left there for days, if not weeks. A video showed some of the victims were shot while simply walking the streets. The mayor of Kyiv said in a comment that Putin is now guilty of committing genocide. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz denounced the images on a video as “terrible and horrific.” Scholz has also demanded that international organizations be given access to the mass graves in which many innocent civilians have been buried in Ukraine; Scholz said that the West “must relentlessly investigate the crimes of the Russian military and hold the perpetrators accountable.”

As the conflict enters day thirty-nine, Zelenskyy continues to promise victory as the negotiations continue. He reiterated that “lands north of Kyiv” are being recaptured by the Ukrainian troops, although soldiers are moving cautiously to do so. The Russian military has taken credit for an alleged missile attack on Odesa, another port city in Ukraine. However, Odesa city officials say that this is untrue and that the anti-air defense system shot the missiles down before they were able to hit their intended targets.