Ukraine has won the battle of Kharkiv, analysts say, as Kyiv warns of ‘long phase of war’

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Ukrainian forces “appear to person won the conflict of Kharkiv”, according to a US defence thinktank, successful what appears to beryllium their fastest beforehand since Russian troops pulled distant from Kyiv and the north-east implicit a period ago.

In different evident setback to Vladimir Putin’s warfare aims, analysts said connected Saturday that Russian units had not attempted to clasp their lines against counterattacking Ukrainian troops astir the city.

Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest metropolis and lone 31 miles (50km) from the Russian border, has been nether force bombardment since the warfare began successful February.

But the US-based Institute for the Study of War said successful its latest assessment of the struggle that the Russians appeared to beryllium dropping backmost and aimed to regenerate their ain troops with proxy forces oregon mercenaries.

“Ukraine frankincense appears to person won the conflict of Kharkiv,” the institute said. “Ukrainian forces prevented Russian troops from encircling, fto unsocial seizing Kharkiv, and past expelled them from astir the city, arsenic they did to Russian forces attempting to prehend Kyiv.”

Russian units had “generally not attempted to clasp crushed against counterattacking Ukrainian forces implicit the past respective days, with a fewer exceptions”.

“Reports from occidental officials and a video from an serviceman of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) bespeak that Moscow is focused connected conducting an orderly withdrawal and prioritizing getting Russians backmost location earlier allowing proxy forces to participate Russia alternatively than trying to clasp its positions adjacent the city.”

Ukraine present controls territory stretching to the Siverskyi Donets river, astir 25 miles (40km) to the eastbound of the city.

“We are entering a new, agelong signifier of the war,” the Ukrainian defence minister, Oleksii Reznikov, said successful a Facebook station connected Friday night, predicting “extremely pugnacious weeks” up during which helium said Ukraine would mostly beryllium unsocial against an “enraged aggressor”.

However, Moscow is inactive bombarding villages northbound of Kharkiv. Some six miles northbound of the city, firefighters doused smouldering wreckage successful Dergachi aft what section officials said was an overnight Russian rocket onslaught connected the House of Culture, utilized to administer aid. Volunteers wrong were trying to salvage packages of babe diapers and formula.

“I can’t telephone it thing but a violent act,” the mayor, Vyacheslav Zadorenko, told Reuters. “They wanted to deed the basal wherever we store provisions and make a humanitarian catastrophe.”

Earlier connected Friday, British defence quality said Russia had mislaid “significant armoured manoeuvre elements” from a battalion tactical radical – usually astir 800 beardown – successful a failed effort to transverse a strategically important stream successful the Donbas, to the south-east of Kharkiv.

Serhiy Haidai, the politician of the Luhansk region, said Russian forces had been repulsed 3 times arsenic they tried to transverse the Siverskyi Donets River, losing armour and bridging equipment.

“We person eliminated Russian speedboats and helicopters, which they utilized to screen their attempts,” the politician added, portion aerial photography showed destroyed pontoon bridges and armour by the riverbanks.

Ukraine’s defence ministry tweeted pictures of a smashed pontoon span and destroyed armoured vehicles successful Bilohorivka connected Wednesday, describing them arsenic showing victims of “artillerymen of the 17th vessel brigade”.

An aerial photograph  of a ruined pontoon crossing with dozens of destroyed Russian armoured vehicles connected  the banks of Siverskyi Donets River,
An aerial photograph of a ruined pontoon crossing with dozens of destroyed Russian armoured vehicles connected the banks of Siverskyi Donets River. Photograph: AP

Analysts judge Russian attempts to summation territory successful the Donbas are progressively focused connected Severodonetsk, the easternmost municipality held by Ukrainian forces – and the Russian forces were trying to transverse the stream successful an effort to chopped disconnected the town.

However, the Institute of War said the Russians had “made nary progress” with an attempted crushed violative from Izium, and that the Kremlin mightiness not person capable troops to implicit an encirclement of Severodonetsk.

“The Russians whitethorn not person capable further caller combat powerfulness to offset those losses and proceed the violative connected a ample capable standard to implicit the encirclement, though they volition apt proceed to effort to bash so,” the institute said.

Other cardinal developments successful the warfare were:

  • “Very hard negotiations” are nether mode connected the adjacent signifier of evacuations from Mariupol and the Azovstal alloy plant, wherever the city’s past remaining Ukrainian defenders are holed up, the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has said successful his latest nightly address. “We bash not halt trying to prevention each our radical from Mariupol and Azovstal. Currently, precise hard negotiations are nether mode connected the adjacent signifier of the evacuation ngo – the rescue of the earnestly wounded, medics.”

  • Zelenskiy besides warned that the warfare and Russia’s blockade of Ukraine’s ports were “provoking a large-scale nutrient crisis”, adding that “Russian officials are besides openly threatening the satellite that determination volition beryllium famine successful dozens of countries”.

  • Russia volition suspend energy supplies to Finland from 1am connected Saturday the supplier, RAO Nordic, said, amid rising tensions implicit Helsinki’s bid to articulation Nato. The US president, Joe Biden, expressed his enactment for the close of Finland and Sweden “to determine their ain future, overseas argumentation and information arrangements” successful a telephone with his Finnish counterpart, Sauli Niinistö, and Sweden’s premier minister, Magdalena Andersson.

  • In their archetypal speech since the invasion, the US defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, spoke by telephone connected Friday with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, seeking an contiguous ceasefire and stressing the value of unfastened lines of communication.

  • Foreign ministers from the G7 radical of affluent nations backed giving Ukraine much assistance and arms, and the European Union’s overseas argumentation chief, Josep Borrell, announced a further €500m ($520m) worthy of subject enactment that should beryllium approved adjacent week by EU members. He voiced assurance the bloc volition hold an embargo connected Russian oil. Ukraine’s overseas curate told the gathering successful Germany helium hoped EU holdout Hungary would hold to the lipid embargo. The Hungarian premier minister, Viktor Orban, wants hundreds of millions of dollars successful compensation earlier agreeing to a ban.