The Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv is still very much under threat from airstrikes, despite the repositioning of Russian forces away from the north and northwest of the city, U.S. Senior Defense Official said at a briefing on March 31.
"Despite the rhetoric of de-escalation, we're still observing artillery fire and airstrikes in and around Kyiv," the official said.
"They're still fighting to the north of Kyiv."
The official added that "we haven't observed that much of a difference over the last 24 hours, so I'd still roughly leave it at about 20% or so. There hasn't been and so it hasn't been sort of, you know, wholesale movement, at least not at this point."
The U.S. Department of Defense believes that "this repositioning that (the Russians) are doing around Kyiv and other places in the north, and this re-prioritization on the Donbas, clearly indicate that they know they have failed to take the capital city."
The official also pointed out to evidence of poor morale and poor performance by Russian soldiers.
"I would just tell you that we have continued to see unit cohesion issues, command-and-control problems, problems of faulty leadership," the official said.
On March 29, Russia's Defense Ministry announced the decision to "drastically reduce hostilities" in Kyiv and Chernihiv directions.
"Heavy fighting will likely take place in the suburbs of the city in coming days," the Ministry of Defense tweeted on March 31, referring to the latest Defense Intelligence update.
On March 30, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said that Russia had repositioned less than 20% of its forces previously deployed around Kyiv.