80th day of the war in Ukraine: Russia withdraws troops from Kharkov

After weeks of fighting, Russia gradually withdrew its troops from near Kharkov, Ukraine’s second-largest city, to focus on its goal of gaining complete control of the Donbass region.

Kharkov is one of the first targets of the Russian military offensive since Moscow launched a special military operation on February 24. However, today, on the 80th day of fighting, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Army said that Russian forces are gradually withdrawing from this area after meeting fierce resistance from the defense forces.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the Ukrainian army had regained control of at least six towns and villages in the east over the past day. Russian forces appear to have abandoned the goal of attacking Kharkov and are turning to protecting logistic lines in order to gain complete control of the Donbass region.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), based in Washington, US, said Ukraine may have won the “Battle of Kharkov.” The ISW report found that Ukraine prevented Russian forces from establishing a pincer position, making it impossible for them to besiege the city and then force it out of the suburbs.

With a few exceptions, Russian units “have generally not tried to fend off Ukrainian counterattacks in the past few days,” the ISW judged. Kharkov Governor Oleh Sinegubov said the city had not recorded any shelling over the past day.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said hostilities had entered a “new and prolonged phase”.

Meanwhile, Major General Kyrylo Budanov, commander of Ukraine’s military intelligence service, spoke in an interview with Sky news announced on May 14 that the turning point would come in the second half of August and much of the fighting would be over by the end of the year.

Overview of the Ukrainian battlefield after almost three months of war.  Graphic: Washington Post.

Overview of the Ukrainian battlefield after almost three months of war. Graphic: Washington Post.

Both sides are concentrating their resources on the battlefield in eastern Ukraine. Russia is stepping up raids on military targets in the province Donetsk with mortars, artillery and air force. The Ukrainian side said that the Russian military is trying to “exhaust Ukrainian troops and destroy defenses”.

The Russian Defense Ministry announced that the Air Force destroyed five more Ukrainian command posts and two ammunition depots in the Spornoye and Berestovoye areas of the Donetsk region and removed more than 100 Ukrainian soldiers and 23 weapon units from the battle.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian army launched a new counterattack near the city isium Part of Kharkov, in the south-eastern part of the province and adjacent to Donetsk. The city is controlled by Russian forces. Ukrainian officials said that keeping pressure on Izium and Russia’s supply lines in the region could make it harder for the Russian military to control the entire Donbass.

city Mariupol The shores of the Sea of ‚Äč‚ÄčAzov are almost entirely controlled by Russian forces. However, despite the siege and shelling by Russian forces, around a few hundred Ukrainian soldiers are still holed up under the Azovstal Iron and Steel Factory.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said negotiations with Russia on the evacuation of wounded Ukrainian soldiers from the factory were “very complicated”. All civilians were previously removed from the factory. Ukraine has offered to release some Russian prisoners of war in exchange for evacuating the 38 most seriously wounded soldiers from the Azovstal plant, but Russia has not yet agreed.

The President of Ukraine welcomes another high-level delegation from the United States Kyiv, led by Senator Mitch McConnell. The US delegation also includes some Republican congressmen.

The visit comes as Senator Rand Paul blocks the US Senate from approving a $40 billion package to help Ukraine and its allies deal with Russia.

In today’s update, General Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, said that as of May 14, Russian forces had destroyed at least 165 military aircraft, 125 helicopters and 858 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) belonging to the Ukrainian Air Force.

Konashenkov said that the Ukrainian side also lost a total of 304 anti-aircraft missile systems, 3,051 tanks and tanks, 372 missile systems, 1,507 cannons of all kinds and 2,898 specialized military motor vehicles.

Image of Ukrainian artillery with M777 155mm gun, provided by the US, announced by Chief of Staff Valerii Zaluzhnyi on May 13th.  Photo: Facebook Valerii Saluzhnyi.

Image of Ukrainian artillery with M777 155mm gun, provided by the US, announced by Chief of Staff Valerii Zaluzhnyi on May 13th. Picture: Facebook Valerii Saluzhnyi.

The Russian army has taken control of several other towns and villages outside the separatist line in Donbass, including the city Ruby Ne with a pre-war population of about 55,000.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has so far registered more than 6 million Ukrainians who left the country after February 24, when Russia launched a military operation to “demilitarize and defascize Ukraine”.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reported a total of 7,839 civilian casualties in Ukraine, of whom 3,573 died and 3,816 were injured. The agency warned the actual number could be much higher.

Fighting is expected to escalate further in eastern Ukraine in the Donets River basin near the city Severodonetsk, next time. The Ukrainian armed forces have organized many tactical counterattacks in this area in the past, but have not been able to stop the advance of the Russian army.

“The fate of about 40,000 Ukrainian army fighters will be decided by the battle in this city,” warned Oleh Zhdanov, a Ukrainian military expert.

Surname (Corresponding Reuters, AP, TASS)