Ukraine pushes Russian troops back in counter-offensive near Kharkiv

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Ukraine said on Tuesday its forces had recaptured villages from Russian troops north and northeast of Kharkiv, pressing a counter-offensive that could signal a shift in the war’s momentum and jeopardise Russia’s main advance.

Tetiana Apatchenko, press officer for the 92nd Separate Mechanized Brigade, the main Ukrainian force in the area, confirmed that Ukrainian troops had in recent days recaptured the settlements of Cherkaski Tyshky, Ruski Tyshki, Borshchova and Slobozhanske, in a pocket north of Kharkiv.

Defence Ministry adviser Yuriy Saks said the successes were pushing Russian forces out of range of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city and located in the northeast, which has been under perpetual bombardment since the war began.

“The military operations of the Ukrainian armed forces around Kharkiv, especially north and northeast of Kharkiv, are sort of a success story,” Saks told Reuters. “The Ukrainian army was able to push these war criminals to a line beyond the reach of their artillery.”

In Washington, U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to be preparing for a long conflict. A Russian victory in the Donbas region in the east of the country might not end the war, she said.

The head of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) said the war was at a stalemate.

But the counterattack near Kharkiv could signal a new phase, with Ukraine now going on the offensive after weeks in which Russia mounted a massive assault without making a breakthrough.

By pushing back Russian forces who had occupied the outskirts of Kharkiv since the start of the invasion, the Ukrainians are moving into striking distance of the rear supply lines sustaining the main Russian attack force further south.

“They’re trying to cut in and behind the Russians to cut off the supply lines, because that’s really one of their (the Russians’) main weaknesses,” said Neil Melvin of the RUSI think-tank in London.

“Ukrainians are getting close to the Russian border. So all the gains that the Russians made in the early days in the northeast of Ukraine are increasingly slipping away.”

Source:Reuters.com

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