Russia and Ukraine: Russian forces “withdrew” from the vicinity of the city of Kharkiv

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A Ukrainian soldier passes by a burnt-out natural gas station on the northern outskirts of Kharkiv on Friday

The mayor of the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, Ihor Terekov, told the BBC that Russian forces withdrew from the vicinity of the city towards the Russian border.

He added that the Russian forces were only able to enter a small part of the main city once, and did not stay there for long.

“The Russians were constantly bombing Kharkiv because they were staying near the city. Due to the efforts of Kharkiv’s regional defense and the Ukrainian armed forces, the Russians withdrew away from the city’s periphery towards the Russian border,” he said.

The city of Kharkiv is located in northeastern Ukraine, only about 50 kilometers from the Russian border, not far from the Donbass region, which is home to separatist groups fighting on the side of Russia in the war.

Kharkiv is sometimes called the “fortified city”, as it acquired this name during the current war.

It is the second largest city in Ukraine and was home to about 1.4 million people before the outbreak of the war.

“Now there is calm in Kharkiv and people are gradually returning to the city. We are providing water, gas and electricity to all citizens. However, unfortunately, many residential buildings have been destroyed or damaged. So in the future we will have a huge task to rebuild,” the city mayor said.

“There has been no bombing in the city for the past five days. There was only one attempt by the Russians to hit the city with a rocket-propelled grenade near the Kharkiv airport, but the missile was shot down by the Ukrainian air defense,” he added.

Kharkiv had been a major strategic target of Russian invasion since the early days of the war, but the Ukrainian defensive line withstood weeks of attempts to breach it.

Instead, Russia resorted to heavy artillery bombardment of the city, as it did with other major targets such as Mariupol, which caused extensive damage.

But in recent weeks, the attempt by Ukrainian forces to retake the towns and villages north of the city has accelerated into a successful counter-offensive, prompting Russian forces to retreat toward the border.

The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War had previously said that Russia had failed to encircle Kharkiv and had now abandoned attempts to do so.

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A house destroyed in the city of Kharkiv as a result of the war. The photo was taken on May 12th

Observers see the latest development as an important moment in the war, not a turning point.

In the southeast of Kharkiv, Ukraine managed to stop Russian forces from crossing the Seversky Donets River to the west of Severodonetsk, according to reports.

Footage published by the Ukrainian forces command showed a number of burned military vehicles, near a bridge that was partially flooded, in addition to a number of damaged or abandoned vehicles near the area, including tanks.

In his last video speech, President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Ukrainian forces are doing everything possible to liberate the country.

The article is in Arabic

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