March 30, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Maureen Chowdhury, Travis Caldwell, Seán Federico O'Murchú, Lianne Kolirin and Sana Noor Haq, CNN

Updated 12:02 a.m. ET, March 31, 2022
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10:55 p.m. ET, March 29, 2022

FIRST ON CNN: Video shows extensive destruction in deserted Irpin

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy and David Lauterbach

A screengrab from the video shows the extent of the destruction in Irpin on the northwestern outskirts of Kyiv.
A screengrab from the video shows the extent of the destruction in Irpin on the northwestern outskirts of Kyiv. (Ukrainian Witness Project)

The full extent of the devastation in the city of Irpin can be seen in new video taken by a Ukrainian NGO and provided to CNN.

It comes after Ukrainian forces pushed Russian troops out of the city in Kyiv's northwestern suburbs in the past 36 hours.

Some context: CNN has geolocated and verified the authenticity of the video taken by Ukrainian Witness Project, which is chronicling the war in Ukraine. This is one of the first videos in weeks from the eastern part of Irpin, as intense fighting there made it impossible to access safely.

On Monday, Irpin's mayor said Ukainian troops has reclaimed the area from Russian forces.

A wasteland: The video, filmed Tuesday, shows the wooded suburb akin to an apocalyptic wasteland.

Wind passing through the remaining trees and the clanging of sheet metal against metal is the only thing that's heard in the video, save for the dull boom of a military strike in the distance.

Ongoing shelling: Russia claims it will reduce military activity near Kyiv, but CNN has seen no sign that's happening yet as military strikes continued on Tuesday evening around the Ukrainian capital.

The video shows that while the gunfire, the bombs and the war may have — for now — left Irpin, so has most of the life in the city.

Bodies in streets: Aside from debris and destruction of buildings, the bodies of civilians are the only thing in the streets.

An individual in a leather jacket, who had apparently been pulling a small cart when killed, is seen face down on the ground. Another casualty is shown on their back in the backseat of a bullet-ridden car.

There are at least five bodies in the video. It is unclear how and when they died.

The video shows they remain where they were struck dead in the street, in wind-filled silence, among the charred buildings and splintered trees.

Watch: Graphic video shows extensive destruction in Irpin

8:07 p.m. ET, March 29, 2022

Top US general in Europe: An intelligence gap could have caused the US to overestimate Russia's military

From CNN's Barbara Starr, Ellie Kaufman and Jeremy Herb

The top US general in Europe said Tuesday there "could be" a gap in US intelligence gathering that caused the US to overestimate Russia's capability and underestimate Ukraine's defensive abilities before Russia attacked Ukraine.

When Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine last month, US intelligence assessed that the country-wide assault could lead to Kyiv falling into Russian hands within days. But Russia's military has been bogged down around the capital as the war has entered its second month, beleaguered by sustainability and logistics problems, along with an unexpected stiff resistance from Ukrainian fighters.

Testifying at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday, US European Command chief Gen. Tod Wolters was asked by Sen. Roger Wicker, a Mississippi Republican, if there was an intelligence gap that caused the US to overestimate Russia's strength and underestimate the Ukrainian defenses.

"There could be," Wolters responded. "As we've always done in the past, when this crisis is over with, we will accomplish a comprehensive after-action review in all domains and in all departments and find out where our weak areas were and make sure we can find ways to improve, and this could be one of those areas."

While US intelligence was spot on in predicting Russia was planning to invade Ukraine — which the Biden administration aggressively released to turn global sentiment against the Kremlin — the intelligence community did not assess the poor performance of the Russian military.

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8:04 p.m. ET, March 29, 2022

US skeptical of Russian claims it's scaling back the war in Ukraine

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

President Joe Biden and other American officials voiced extreme caution Tuesday at signals Russia is scaling back its military operations near Kyiv, suggesting they were waiting to see stronger signs of de-escalation before making an assessment of Moscow's intentions.

"We'll see. I don't read anything into it until I see what their actions are. We'll see if they follow through what they're suggesting," Biden said at the White House, where officials were busy digesting intelligence and reports from the ground that Russian troops were moving their focus away from Ukraine's capital toward other areas of the country.

Biden's don't-trust-but-verify approach reflects deep American skepticism at Russian President Vladimir Putin's motives amid his monthlong invasion of Ukraine. While the US has observed movements of Russian forces away from Kyiv, there remains doubt the Russian assault on Ukraine will end soon.

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8:42 p.m. ET, March 29, 2022

Russia says it will reduce military operations around Kyiv following talks with Ukraine

From CNN's Nathan Hodge, Daria Markina, Tim Lister, Niamh Kennedy and Lindsay Isaac

Russia said it would "drastically reduce" its military assault on the Ukrainian cities of Kyiv and Chernihiv after talks took place between representatives of the two nations on Tuesday that appeared to show signs of progress towards an off ramp to the conflict.

The Russian Defense Ministry has decided to "radically, at times, reduce military activity" in the direction of Kyiv and Chernihiv, deputy defense minister Alexander Fomin said, state media RIA reported. The ministry's Telegram channel also said that Moscow would "drastically reduce military activity" in the cities.

The announcement comes after Ukrainian and Western intelligence assessments suggested in recent days that Russia's advance on Kyiv was stalling.

Talks between Russian and Ukrainian delegations in Istanbul, Turkey on Tuesday covered an array of important issues, including the future of the eastern Donbas region, the fate of Crimea, a broad alliance of security guarantors and a potential meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Fomin told reporters that the ongoing discussions regarding the "neutrality and non-nuclear status of Ukraine" had contributed to the decision. More details on the steps to reduce hostilities will follow after the Russian delegation returns from Istanbul, Fomin said in remarks carried by Russian state news agency TASS.

Despite the announcement, intense fighting continued around the suburbs of Kyiv on Tuesday afternoon, especially in the northwest and northeast of the city.

Ukraine echoed the announcement regarding the reduction in military action, saying some Russian troops were pulling back from Kyiv and Chernihiv.

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