Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly video address on Friday, “At the moment, the army has liberated and brought under control more than 30 settlements in the Kharkiv region.
NBC News has not confirmed the allegations.
The War Research Institute, a U.S.-based military think tank, said in its latest update on Saturday that Ukrainian forces had “occupied an estimated 2,500 square kilometers (about 1,000 square miles)” in the area by Friday night. “The main elements advanced up to 50km (31 miles) into previously Russian-held territory on a narrow front,” the UK Ministry of Defense said.
The Russian Defense Ministry said in a Telegram post on Saturday that “a decision has been made to reorganize” some of its troops in the region, transferring them to Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region.
“To prevent damage to the Russian forces, we inflicted a strong fire defeat on the enemy using aviation, missile forces and artillery,” it added. NBC News has not been able to confirm this claim.
The Defense Ministry had previously released a video of military vehicles rushing to the aid of the Self-Defense Forces in the east.
Separately, Moscow-installed officials in the area acknowledged that the Ukrainian military had made a profit.
“The very fact of the breakthrough is an important victory for them,” Vitaly Ganchev, who heads the Kremlin-controlled government in the occupied Kharkov province, said on Russian state television on Friday.
Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on Ukraine’s progress, but said the Russian president would hold a closed-door Security Council meeting.
Putin I promised earlier this week To He pushed Moscow’s military efforts in Ukraine, saying his country had gained, not lost, the conflict.
But the events on the battlefield seemed to paint a dark picture for the Kremlin.
A Reuters journalist saw burnt-out vehicles marked with the ‘Z’ symbol for the invasion of Moscow piled up in positions abandoned by fugitive Russian soldiers in the vast area recently retaken by the Ukrainian army’s advance. I saw a box of ammunition that had been destroyed.
The United States has expressed cautious optimism about the Ukrainian counterattack, and the Pentagon said Kyiv’s forces are making good use of Western-supplied weapons.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Friday at a news conference during a visit to Prague that it was “very encouraging to see the success we’re seeing in Kherson and the success we’re seeing in Kharkov.”
“It’s probably too early to give a definitive assessment,” Assistant Secretary of Defense Sasha Baker told reporters in Washington, adding, “I think we’ve seen some encouraging signs.”
But she added that Russia was a “formidable enemy” and that “a long battle awaits”.
A senior U.S. military official said in an interview that it was clear that Ukrainian forces were “moving forward,” adding that “they have made significant progress in the last few days.”
Ukraine first launched a counteroffensive in the south of the country late last month after weeks of public building and preparations aimed at advancing towards the key coastal city of Kherson.
Then this week reports began to emerge that Kyiv’s forces launched another counteroffensive further north after Russia redeployed a number of its own forces south to counter the effort.
“The Russians were either too incompetent to see it, or too incompetent to see it and do nothing,” said Phillips, chair of strategic studies at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. O’Brien said earlier this week. “And neither is comforting to them.”
Some Western military analysts say the advance appears aimed at cutting off the supply and communication lines that Russia relies on to maintain its forces in eastern Ukraine, leaving thousands of Russian troops on the ground. may be surrounded around the important city of Ijum.
Ukrainian security officials said Kyiv has deployed troops inside the nearby city of Kupyansk, where a rail line connecting Russia and eastern Ukraine joins. According to Reuters, the advance suggested the Ukrainians had penetrated Moscow’s main logistics routes.
The industrial Donbass region has long been the focus of Putin’s war effort.
Glenn Grant, a retired British officer who worked as a defense reform expert in Ukraine before the war, said the success of the counterattack remained questionable. For example, did Ukraine defeat the Russian army or did it “drive into the fresh air”?
“In other words, there’s no one there,” he said, adding that he wanted to know if Ukraine was laying down strong supply lines and artillery support as it advanced.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley said Thursday that Ukraine utilizes its current arsenal of Western-made weapons, including the US-supplied HIMARS rocket system.
President Joe Biden this week approved $675 million in additional military aid to Ukraine, including additional artillery, armored vehicles and anti-tank systems.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who met with Secretary of State Anthony Brinken in Brussels after Brinken’s visit to Kyiv, said the war was “at a critical stage” and that the Western We need to keep a clear eye on what is at stake.
“If Russia stops fighting, there will be peace,” he said. “If Ukraine stops fighting, it will cease to exist as an independent state.
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/ukraine-surprise-counteroffensive-kharkiv-russia-land-east-rcna46805 Russia withdraws from key regions in eastern Ukraine after surprise attack