Putin’s troops ‘withdrawing from Kharkiv’ amid grinding battle for Ukraine’s east

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ussian troops are withdrawing from Ukraine’s second-largest metropolis after weeks of heavy bombardment, the Ukrainian army has stated as the 2 sides interact in a grinding battle for the nation’s east.

Ukraine’s basic workers stated the Russians had been pulling again from the north-eastern metropolis of Kharkiv and specializing in guarding provide routes, whereas launching mortar, artillery and air strikes within the jap Donetsk area to “deplete Ukrainian forces and destroy fortifications”.

Defence minister Oleksii Reznikov stated Ukraine is “coming into a brand new – long-term – part of the struggle”.

Because the nation’s prime prosecutor put a Russian soldier on trial for struggle crimes, the primary of dozens that would face fees, President Volodymyr Zelensky stated Ukrainians had been doing their “most” to drive out the invaders and that the end result of the struggle would rely upon help from Europe and different allies.

“Nobody at this time can predict how lengthy this struggle will final,” he stated in his nightly video tackle on Friday.

Russia’s offensive in Donbas, Ukraine’s jap industrial heartland, seemed to be turning right into a village-by-village, back-and-forth slog with no main breakthroughs on both aspect.

After failing to seize Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, the Russian army determined to focus on the Donbas, however its troops have struggled to realize floor.

Mr Zelensky stated Ukraine’s forces had made progress, retaking six Ukrainian cities or villages up to now day. Western officers stated Ukraine had pushed Russian forces again round Kharkiv, which was a key goal for Moscow’s troops.

“The Russians actually haven’t made a lot in the best way of tactical positive aspects lately,” one western official stated, describing the struggle’s entrance line as “oscillating”.

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“The Ukrainians proceed to launch counterattacks, notably round Kherson and Kharkiv. We anticipate this to settle into a protracted attritional battle,” the official added.

The Ukrainian army chief for the Luhansk area of Donbas stated on Friday that troops had practically full management of Rubizhne, a metropolis with a pre-war inhabitants of round 55,000.

Preventing was fierce on the Siversky Donets River close to town of Severodonetsk, the place Ukraine has launched counterattacks however did not halt Russia’s advance, stated Oleh Zhdanov, an impartial Ukrainian army analyst.

“The destiny of a giant portion of the Ukrainian military is being determined – there are about 40,000 Ukrainian troopers,” he stated.

Nonetheless, Russian forces suffered heavy losses in a Ukrainian assault that destroyed a pontoon bridge they had been utilizing to attempt to cross the river in Bilohorivka, Ukrainian and British officers stated, in one other signal of Moscow’s battle to salvage a struggle gone awry.

Ukraine’s airborne command launched images and video of what it stated was a broken Russian pontoon bridge over the Siversky Donets River and not less than 73 destroyed or broken Russian army autos close by.

The UK Ministry of Defence stated Russia misplaced “important armoured manoeuvre parts” of not less than one battalion tactical group within the assault. A Russian battalion tactical group consists of about 1,000 troops.

It stated the dangerous river crossing was an indication of “the strain the Russian commanders are below to make progress of their operations in jap Ukraine”.

In different developments, a transfer by Finland and probably Sweden to hitch Nato was thrown into query when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated his nation is “not of a beneficial opinion” in the direction of the thought.

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He accused Sweden and different Scandinavian international locations of supporting Kurdish militants and others Turkey considers terrorists.

Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the struggle aiming to thwart Nato’s eastward advance. The invasion of Ukraine has different international locations alongside Russia’s flank nervous they could possibly be subsequent.

Mr Zelensky stated in his video tackle that Ukrainians had been doing every part they might to drive out the Russians, however “nobody at this time can predict how lengthy this struggle will final”.

“This may rely, sadly, not solely on our individuals, who’re already giving their most,” he stated. “This may rely upon our companions, on European international locations, on the complete free world.”

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