Russian forces attacked areas in Kyiv and another Ukrainian city hours after they pledged to reduce military operations there to facilitate negotiations, Ukrainian authorities announced Wednesday.

The Russian aggressions on other areas of the country and the shelling have tempered any optimism regarding progress in the talks aimed at ending the repressive war.

The Russian military announced Tuesday that it would reduce tensions near Kiev and Chernihiv in order to “increase mutual distrust” and was met with suspicion by Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian President.

Soon after, Ukrainian officials reported Russian shelling hitting homes, stores and libraries in Chernihiv, as well as other civilian sites, near Kyiv. The Ukrainian side claimed that Russian troops increased their attacks on the eastern Donetsk and Izyum cities, following the redeploying of units from other areas.

Olexander Lomako secretary of Chernihiv’s city council said that the Russian announcement was “a complete lie.”

Lomako stated that “at night they didn’t decrease but vice versa increased intensity of military action.”

Five weeks after the invasion, which has claimed the lives of thousands of people on both sides of the conflict, the number fleeing Ukraine reached a staggering 4 million. Half of these were children, according the United Nations.

Nikolay Nazarov, a Ukrainian refugee, stated that he did not know if the Russians can still be believed as he drove his father’s wheelchair to cross into Poland. “I believe that more escalation is coming in eastern Ukraine. We cannot return to Kharkiv.

Other developments

President Joe Biden announced additional $500 million in aid to Ukraine.

–U.S. According to a U.S. official, intelligence officers found that Vladimir Putin’s advisers are misinforming him about the poor performance by Moscow’s forces in Ukraine.

The German government claimed that it had received assurances from Russia that European gas companies would not have to pay in rubles for Russian gas. This prospect raised concerns that Russia might cut off. Poland also announced plans to stop all Russian oil imports by year’s end.

The U.N. is investigating allegations that residents of Mariupol, a besieged and destroyed southern city, were forcibly moved to Russian-controlled areas or Russia itself.

The faint outline of a possible peace deal was evident at a round of negotiations held Tuesday in Istanbul. The Ukrainian delegation presented a framework that would allow Ukraine to declare itself neutral and drop its bid for NATO membership, as Moscow long demanded, in exchange for security guarantees from other countries.

Russian top officials responded positively to the statement by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that Ukraine’s willingness “significantly” to accept NATO neutrality and seek out security outside of it, according to Russian news agencies.

Zelenskyy, after the Kremlin announced that it would reduce some of its military operations in response, stated that you can only trust concrete results when dealing with Russians. This assessment was repeated by Biden and Dominic Raab (British Deputy Prime Minister), who both noted that there are suspicions that Russia may regroup and attack again.

On Wednesday, the skepticism was well-founded.

Oleksandr Pavliuk is the head of the Kyiv regional military administration. He said that Russian shells had targeted civilian infrastructure and residential areas in the Bucha and Brovary regions around the capital.

Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, a spokesperson for the Russian Defense Ministry, stated that the military also attacked fuel depots in two cities in central Ukraine using long-range air-launched cruise missiles. He said that Russian forces also attacked a headquarters of the Ukrainian Special Forces in the south Mykolaiv area and two ammunition depots within the Donetsk region.

John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesperson, stated that the U.S. saw some Russian troops move north from Kyiv to Belarus over the past 24 hours but did not consider this a withdrawal. It was only an attempt by Moscow to resupply the troops and then reposition them.

In recent days, top Russian military officers have stated that their primary goal is to “liberate” Donbas. This predominantly Russian-speaking area in the east has been the scene of Russian-backed separatists fighting Ukrainian forces since 2014. According to Western officials, Moscow is strengthening its forces in the Donbas.

Analysts have suggested that the Kremlin’s apparent deescalation of its war aims and promise to de-escalate may be merely an attempt to make reality seem positive: Moscow’s ground forces have been defeated — and suffered heavy losses — in their attempts to take over the capital and other major cities.

Two people were killed when a missile struck an apartment block in Donetsk, the rebel-controlled capital. The attack was blamed by separatists on Ukrainian forces.

“I was sitting on the couch, and then — boom! The window glass burst, and the frames fell off. Anna Gorda, a resident, said that she didn’t understand what had happened.

According to the U.N. food agency, it provides emergency assistance to 1,000,000 people in Ukraine. The food included 330,000 fresh-baked loaves of bread for the families living in Kharkiv, an heavily bombarded eastern region.

“Children and our city are suffering,” Tetyana Parmynska (28-year-old) from Chernihiv said while a man sang on a battered keyboard with a peace symbol. “We don’t have the strength to go on.”