Ukraine appears to have won the battle of Kharkiv, military analysts said over the weekend as Russian troops pulled back from the country’s second-largest city, The Associated Press reports.
Ukraine “appears to have won the Battle of Kharkiv,” the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, said on Sunday. “Ukrainian forces prevented Russian troops from encircling, let alone seizing Kharkiv, and then expelled them from around the city, as they did to Russian forces attempting to seize Kyiv.”
The pullback comes after weeks of intense shelling targeting the city, which is near the Russian border.
Kharkiv is the second-largest city in Ukraine behind Kyiv. It had 1.4 million residents before the war.
Ukraine says Russia pulling back:
Russian troops are pulling back from Kharkiv and aiming to “deplete Ukrainian forces and destroy fortifications” around Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said.
He added that Ukraine is “entering a new — long-term — phase of the war.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Saturday that “the situation in Donbas remains very difficult” and Russian troops were “still trying to come out at least somewhat victorious.”
“Step by step,” he added, “we are forcing the occupants to leave the Ukrainian land.”
Ukraine launches new offensive in Izyum:
Ukraine has launched a new counteroffensive targeting Izyum, which is about 78 miles south of Kharkiv and has been under Russian control since last month.
Ukraine also launched counterattacks in Severodonetsk, where Ukraine has failed to halt Russia’s advance, and destroyed a pontoon bridge in Bilohorivka, where the strike reportedly killed more than 400 Russian troops.
The British Defense Ministry said the strike cost Russia “significant armored maneuver elements” and is a sign of “the pressure the Russian commanders are under to make progress in their operations in eastern Ukraine.”