Russians withdraw from Kharkiv, eastern region


kyiv, Ukraine (AFP) – Russian forces are withdrawing from the vicinity of Ukraine’s second-largest city after weeks of shelling, the Ukrainian military announced on Saturday, as forces from kyiv and Moscow fought a battle fierce. In the heart of the industrial region of the east of the country.

Ukraine’s general staff said Russian forces were withdrawing from the northeastern city of Kharkiv and focusing on protecting supply routes, while firing mortars, artillery and airstrikes in eastern Donetsk province to “empty Ukrainian forces and destroy fortifications”.

Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said Ukraine was “entering a new – protracted – phase of the war”.

Meanwhile, President Volodymyr Zelensky told Ukrainians They were doing their best to drive out the invaders and that the outcome of the war would depend on the support of Europe and other allies.

“No one today can predict how long this war will last,” Zelensky said in his video late night speech Friday night.

In a show of support, a U.S. Senate delegation led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell met with Ukraine’s president on Saturday in Kyiv. A video posted to Zelenskyy’s Telegram account showed McConnell, who represents Kentucky, and fellow Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine, John Barrasso of Wyoming and John Cornyn of Texas.

Their trip comes after another Kentucky senator, Rand Paul, blocked until next week Senate approval of an additional $40 billion to help Ukraine and its allies resist the three-month-old Russian invasion.

After failing to capture kyiv following the Feb. 24 invasion, President Vladimir Putin shifted his focus east to Donbass, an industrial region where Ukraine has been fighting Moscow-backed separatists since 2014.

The Russian offensive aims to encircle the more experienced and better equipped Ukrainian forces deployed in the east and to capture the parts of Donbass still under Ukrainian control.

Airstrikes and artillery shelling make it too dangerous for journalists to travel in the east, hampering efforts to get a full picture of the fighting. But it seems to have gone back and forth without major breakthroughs on either side.

youtube video thumbnail

Russia captured some villages and towns in Donbass, including Robyzhny, which had a population of around 55,000 before the war.

Zelensky said Ukrainian forces had also advanced in the east, retaking six towns or villages over the past day.

The city of Kharkiv, close to the Russian border and just 80 kilometers southwest of the Russian city of Belgorod, has been the scene of intense shelling for weeks. The largely Russian-speaking city with a pre-war population of 1.4 million was a major Russian military target early in the war, when Moscow hoped to capture and control major cities.

The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, said Ukraine “appears to have won the battle for Kharkiv”. “The Ukrainian forces prevented the Russian forces from encircling Kharkiv, let alone capture it, and then drove them out of the whole city, as they did with the Russian forces who tried to take kyiv.”

Regional Governor Oleh Senegubov said via the Telegram messaging app that there had been no bombings in Kharkiv over the past day.

He added that Ukraine launched a counterattack near Izyum, a town 125 kilometers (78 miles) south of Kharkiv, which Russia has controlled since at least early April.

Fighting was fierce on the Seversky Donets River near the city of Severodonetsk, Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said, as Ukraine launched counterattacks but failed to halt the advance of the Russia.

“The fate of a large part of the Ukrainian army is decided – there are about 40,000 Ukrainian soldiers,” he said.

But Ukrainian and British officials said Russian forces suffered heavy casualties in a Ukrainian attack that destroyed a pontoon bridge they were using to try to cross the same river in the town of Belhorivka.

Britain’s MoD said Russia had lost “significant manoeuvrable armored elements” of at least one tactical battalion in the offensive. A Russian tactical battalion consists of approximately 1,000 soldiers.

The ministry said the perilous crossing of the river was a sign of “pressure on Russian leaders to push ahead with their operations in eastern Ukraine”.

In his video speech, Zelensky warned that the war is causing a global food crisis as Russia blocks Ukrainian grain from leaving port.

Group of seven major economies He echoed this, saying on Saturday that “Russia’s war of aggression has spawned one of the most serious food and energy crises in modern history, which now threatens the world’s most vulnerable.” .

Putin launched the war in Ukraine in an effort to thwart NATO’s expansion into Eastern Europe.

But the invasion has raised fears in other countries on Russia’s flank that they could be next, and this week Finland’s president and prime minister said they would rather apply for membership. NATO. Swedish officials are expected to announce their decision on Sunday whether to apply to join the Western military alliance.

In a phone call on Saturday, Putin informed Finnish President Sauli Niinistö That there is no threat to Finland’s security and that joining NATO would be a “mistake” and would “negatively affect Russian-Finnish relations”.

The Kremlin said the two leaders had a “frank exchange of views”.

Niinisto said the discussion “was direct and unambiguous and happened without exaggeration. Avoiding tension was considered important.

Russia’s response to Finland’s and Sweden’s moves has so far been muted, although Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said on Saturday their NATO membership would heighten security tensions in the EU. Arctic, “turning it into an arena of military competition”.

Russian energy group Inter RAO interrupted its electricity deliveries to Finland on Saturday, according to a statement from the Finnish national electricity grid operator. But only about 10% of Finland’s electricity comes from Russia, and the authorities did not expect a shortage.

Possible offers for the Nordic countries have been questioned On Friday, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country “did not have a favorable opinion”.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is due to meet his NATO counterparts, including the Turkish Foreign Minister, this weekend in Germany.

In other developments:

Ukrainian fighters locked in a steelworks in the devastated southern port of Mariupol have come under constant attack against the city’s last stronghold of resistance. Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Verychuk said authorities were negotiating the evacuation of 60 seriously injured soldiers, but Russia had not agreed to evacuate the hundreds of wounded fighters from the steelworks, which number in the hundreds.

– An adviser to Mariupol Mayor Petro Andryushenko said via Telegram that a convoy of 500-1,000 vehicles carrying civilians from the city was allowed to enter Ukrainian-controlled territory and headed for Zaporizhia, the first major city outside the front lines.

– Deputy Speaker of the Russian Parliament, Anna Kuznetsova, visited Kherson, the region bordering the Black Sea, which Russia has controlled since the start of the war. Russia has set up a pro-Moscow regional administration and the British Ministry of Defense has said Russia may hold a nationwide referendum on Russian membership, with the results possibly tampered with to show majority support.


Yesica Fisch in Bakhmut, Yuras Karmanau in Lviv, Mstyslav Chernov in Kharkiv, Elena Becatoros in Odessa, Jill Lawless in London and other AP staff from around the world contributed to this report.


Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine:


About Author

Comments are closed.