Russian forces retreated from Kharkiv, officials confirmed Saturday morning, as the Ukrainian military reclaimed key territory in a counter-offensive in the eastern region in one of the biggest gains for Ukraine since the start of the war in February.
Ukrainian forces have closed in on the Russian stronghold of Izium, and recaptured the towns of Kupyansk, Vovchansk and Balakliya along the frontlines of the war, the country’s Ministry of Defense tweeted, as Ukrainian forces push deeper into Russian occupied territory in Kharkiv.
Russian forces retreated from Kharkiv “in order to achieve the stated goals of the special military operation to liberate Donbas,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said, adding it will regroup its forces and plans to “build up” in the direction of Donetsk, the Telegram reported.
The advances are some of the biggest Ukraine has made since the Kremlin’s invasion began in February, following smaller gains in the southern part of the country, including the Black Sea outpost Snake Island, which Ukrainian forces recaptured in June, as well as the Kherson region, where the Ukrainian military broke through Russia’s frontline, the New York Times reported, as Ukraine attempts to retake the region.
A wave of videos and photos posted online Saturday morning showed Ukrainian soldiers capturing a Russian ammunition depot, parading through town centers and raising the country’s flag over a railway car that had supplied arms for Russian forces.
As of Saturday, Ukrainian forces had advanced nearly 30 miles south of Kharkiv, describing Russian resistance around Izium as “increasingly isolated,” British defense ministry officials told the Associated Press.
$15.2 billion. That’s how much the United States has delivered in military aid to Ukraine since the start of the war. The U.S. has been providing more advanced equipment to Ukraine, including high-mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS), surveillance drones and tanks, as the war has progressed.
Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has dragged out for nearly seven months, displacing more than 12 million people, killing nearly 6,000 civilians in Ukraine and injuring nearly 8,000 as of August, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. After Russian forces initially targeted the capital city Kyiv, fighting has shifted to the eastern Donbas and Kharkiv regions. The advances come two days after Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the U.S. will send an additional $2 billion in military aid to Ukraine and 18 other countries threatened by Russia, with half of the package headed to Ukraine.
Kupyansk “has been and will always be Ukrainian! We will free our land to the last centimeter! We move further!” the Ukrainian Security Service wrote in a post Saturday morning.
Russia “taken by surprise” as Ukraine advances in the east (Associated Press)
Ukrainian Forces Advance on Key City in Northeastern Offensive (New York Times)