Ukraine: Russians withdraw from near Kharkiv, attack east

Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) – Russian troops are withdrawing from the surrounding area UkraineUkraine’s second-largest city, Kyiv and Ukrainian cities, was hit after weeks of bombing, the Ukrainian military said on Saturday. MoscowThe troops fought a fierce battle for the country’s eastern industrial heartland.

UkraineRussian troops are retreating from the northeastern city of Kharkiv, focusing on guarding supply lines, while firing mortars, artillery and airstrikes in the eastern province of Donetsk to “deplete Ukrainian troops and destroy fortifications,” the General Staff said. “.

Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said Ukraine is “entering a new phase of long-term war”.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukrainians were “doing their best” to expel the invaders and that the outcome of the war would depend on the support of Europe and other allies.

“No one can predict today how long this war will last,” Zelensky said in a video address Friday night.

In a show of support, a U.S. Senate delegation led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell met the Ukrainian president in Kyiv on Saturday. A video posted to Zelenskyy’s Telegram account shows McConnell of Kentucky and Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine, John Barrasso of Wyoming and John Barrasso of Texas. Corning greeted him.

Their visit comes after another senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul, blocked the Senate from approving an additional $40 billion in help next week. Ukraine and its allies Russiathree-month-old invasion.

After failing to capture Kyiv following the February 24 invasion, President Vladimir Putin shifted his focus eastward to the industrial area of ​​Donbass. Ukraine fought Moscow-Separatists supported since 2014.

RussiaThe goal of the attack is to surround UkraineThe most experienced and well-equipped troops, deployed in the east and captured parts of the Donbass Ukrainecontrol.

Air strikes and shelling made it extremely dangerous for journalists to move around the east, hampering efforts to get a full picture of the fighting. But it appeared to be a rocky back and forth, with neither side making a major breakthrough.

Russia A number of Donbas villages and towns have been occupied, including Rubizhny, which had a population of about 55,000 before the war.

Zelensky says UkraineTroops in the east have also made progress, retaking half a dozen towns or villages in the past day.

Kharkiv, located near the Russian border, just 80 kilometers (50 miles) southwest of the Russian city of Belgorod, has been under heavy shelling for weeks.The predominantly Russian-speaking prewar city of 1.4 million was an important Russian military target in the early days of the war, when Moscow Hope to capture and control major cities.

Ukraine “It appears that the Battle of Kharkiv has been won,” said the Institute for War Institute, a Washington-based think tank. “Ukrainian troops prevent Russian troops from encircling, let alone occupying, Kharkiv, and then drive them out from around the city, as they did with Russian troops trying to occupy Kyiv.”

Regional Governor Oleh Sinegubov said via the Telegram messaging app that there had been no shelling of Kharkiv in the past day.

he added Ukraine Counter-offensive near Izyum, 125 km (78 mi) south of Kharkov Russia At least from the beginning of April.

On the Seversky Donets River near the city of Severo Donetsk, the fighting was fierce, where Ukraine Counterattack launched but failed to stop RussiaOlekhzhdanov, an independent Ukrainian military analyst, said.

“The fate of the bulk of the Ukrainian army is being decided — there are about 40,000 Ukrainian soldiers,” he said.

However, Ukrainian and British officials said Russian troops suffered heavy losses in the Ukrainian attack that destroyed a pontoon bridge they used to try to cross the same river in the town of Bilokhorivka.

British Ministry of Defence said Russia At least one battalion tactical group’s “significant armored maneuvering force” was lost in the attack. A Russian battalion tactical team consists of about 1,000 soldiers.

The ministry said the dangerous river crossing showed “Russian commanders are under pressure to make progress in operations in the east” Ukraine. “

Zelensky warned in a video address that the war is causing a food crisis around the world as Russia blocks Ukrainian grain from leaving ports.

Major G7 economies agreed, saying on Saturday that “RussiaThe war of aggression caused one of the worst food and energy crises in recent history and now threatens the world’s most vulnerable people. “

Putin goes to war Ukraine Designed to stop NATO’s expansion in Eastern Europe.

But there are other countries to invade RussiaFlanks fear they could be next, and this week Finland’s president and prime minister said they were in favour of seeking NATO membership. Swedish officials are expected to announce a decision on Sunday whether to apply to join the Western military alliance.

In a phone call on Saturday, Putin told Finnish President Sauli Niinisto that Finland’s security was not threatened and that joining NATO would be a “mistake” and “negatively affect Russia-Finland relations”.

The Kremlin said the two leaders had a “frank exchange of views”.

Niinisto said the discussions were “straightforward, unambiguous, and without exaggeration. It was seen as important to avoid tensions.”

RussiaSo far, Finland and Sweden have reacted calmly to the moves, although Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Glushko said on Saturday that their accession to NATO would increase security tensions in the Arctic, “turning it into an arena for military competition. “.

Russian energy group Inter RAO suspended power to Finland on Saturday, according to a statement from Finland’s national grid operator.But only about 10% of Finland’s electricity comes from Russiathe authorities did not expect the shortage.

The Nordic country’s potential bid came into question on Friday when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country “doesn’t approve”.

U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Brin is sure to meet his NATO counterparts, including the Turkish foreign minister, in Germany this weekend.

In other developments:

– Ukrainian militants hiding at a steel mill in the devastated southern port of Mariupol face continued attacks on the city’s last stronghold of resistance. UkraineDeputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said authorities were negotiating the evacuation of 60 seriously wounded Russia All the wounded fighters who did not agree to evacuate the steel mill, there were hundreds of them.

– A convoy of 500 to 1,000 cars carrying civilians was allowed to enter Ukrainian-held territory for the first major city outside the front lines, Zhaza, an adviser to Mariupol Mayor Peter Andryushenko Poirot.

– Deputy Speaker of the Russian Parliament Anna Kuznetsova visited the Kherson region bordering the Black Sea Russia from the beginning of the war. Russia installed a proMoscow The Regional Authority and the UK Ministry of Defence said Russia local referendum on joining Russia Results may be manipulated to show majority support.

– Zelensky signed a measure allowing bans on political parties found to support or defend Russiaof the invasion, the head of the National Assembly’s legal policy committee reported on Saturday.

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