In a counter-offensive to Russian forces near Kharkiv, Ukraine sends Russian troops back

On Tuesday, Ukraine claimed that its forces had captured villages from Russian troops northeast of Kharkiv. It was pressing a counter-offensive to signal a shift in war momentum and hamper Russia’s main advance.

  • The Ukraine counter-offensive could change the war’s momentum
  • Ukrainian forces seek to cut off Russian supply lines
  • Moscow suffers a setback at the moment Putin was aiming for victory

Tetiana Apatchenko is the press officer of the 92nd Separate Mechanized Brigade. She confirmed that Ukrainian troops had retaken the settlements Cherkaski Tyshky and Ruski Tyshki as well as Borshchova, Slobozhanske and Borshchova in a region north of Kharkiv.

Yuriy Saks was an advisor to Defense Minister Oleksiy Resnikov. He said that the success had pushed the Russian forces out of range of Kharkiv (Ukraine’s second-largest) which has been under constant bombardment since the start of the war.

Saks stated to Reuters that the military operations of Ukraine’s armed forces around Kharkiv (especially north and northeast Kharkiv) are a success story. “The Ukrainian army was capable of pushing these war criminals beyond the reach of their artillery.”

After weeks of Russia mounting a massive attack without making any breakthrough, the counterattack could be a sign that the war is entering a new phase.

The Ukrainians have pushed back Russian forces that had been occupying the outskirts of Kharkiv since the beginning of the invasion. They are now within striking distance of the rear supply line supporting the main Russian attack force further south.

Neil Melvin, a London-based RUSI think-tank, stated that they are trying to cut in and around the Russians in order to cut off their supply lines.

“Ukrainians are moving closer to the Russian border.” All the Russian gains in the northeast of Ukraine in the early days are slowly fading away.”

CHALLENGES

Moscow’s war plans are being hampered by setbacks in Kharkiv just as Western capitals expect President Vladimir Putin to announce a major victory on a holiday commemorating the end of World War Two.

Putin presided Monday over a massive Red Square military parade to celebrate Victory Day. Western countries were concerned that Putin might order a national mobilization instead of a major battlefield victory to announce. He did not do either, exhorting Russians and giving no hint about his future strategy.

Avril Haines, the U.S. Director for National Intelligence, stated Tuesday that Washington believes Russia still has plans for a long-term war. The goal is to seize more of Ukraine than the eastern Donbas region which was the focus of the attack this month.

Haines stated to lawmakers that Putin believed the West would lose its resolve over time.

Russia abandoned an attack on Kyiv’s capital at the end of March and its main force tried to surround Ukrainian troops in Donbas using Izyum, south of Kharkiv, as a base. Up to now, Ukrainian troops have largely resisted attacks from all three directions.

By pushing back towards Kharkiv Ukraine could force Moscow to stop trying to defend its long supply lines to Izyum. According to Western military analysts, there are signs that Russia is being slowed down by the counter-attack.

“We believe that (Russians are) being forced to withdraw some forces from the axes leading the Donbas control because of what happened in Kharkiv. It just underscores the difficulties they have,” stated Jack Keane, a retired U.S. general and now the chairman of the Institute for the Study of War think-tank.

The Ministry of Defence of Britain stated that Putin was unable to declare military success at Moscow’s parade due to “demonstrable operational failures” after underestimating the Ukrainian resistance.

On Tuesday, the Russian forces in the south attacked the Azovstal steelworks at Mariupol, trying to seize the last remnant of Ukrainian resistance in the ruined city. According to Ukraine, tens of thousand people have been killed under the two-month-old Russian bombardment and siege.

Numerous civilians were evacuated from the steelworks in the last few days. However, Petro Andryushchenko (aide to Mariupol mayor) said that at least 100 people remained inside.

The Azov Regiment of Ukraine, which is still in Azovstal said that 34 Russian aircraft flew over the plant in the last 24 hours. This included 8 sorties by strategic bombers. According to the Azov Regiment, the plant was under attack from the Russian navy as well as tanks, artillery, and rockets. Reuters could not verify the situation.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Bärbock visited Ukraine Tuesday. She visited Bucha, a suburb north of Kyiv in which Russian forces left hundreds of bodies of civilians after they withdrew on April 1. She stated that the murderers must be punished.

She said, “That’s what we owe the victims.” “And these victims, it is very clear that you can feel here that these victims could have been us.”

Baerbock, the first German cabinet minister to visit Ukraine after the war began, was a few days or weeks after visiting other Western officials. Kyiv has criticised the Berlin government for failing to end years of economic ties.

Odesa firefighters battled fires until Tuesday morning after seven Russian missiles struck a shopping center and depot. According to Ukraine’s armed forces, one person was killed and five were injured. Talks between Denys Shmyhal, Ukrainian Prime Minister, and Charles Michel, President of the European Council, were disrupted by missile strikes.

According to the United Nations, the number of Ukrainians fleeing their country following Russia’s invasion on February 24 is close to 6 million. This crisis is the largest since World War Two.


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