Russian forces appear to be withdrawing from Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, several outlets reported.
Citing the Ukrainian military, The Associated Press reported that forces were leaving the area around Kharkiv on Saturday.
In a report on Friday, The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington, DC think tank, said it appears that the Russian military has decided to withdraw from the area around Kharkiv city in the “face of Ukrainian counteroffensives and the limited availability of reinforcements.”
The think tank also said that it appears that Ukraine “won the Battle of Kharkiv.”
“Ukrainian forces prevented Russian troops from encircling, let alone seizing Kharkiv, and then expelled them from around the city, as they did to Russian forces attempting to seize Kyiv,” the report said.
Kharkiv had been through weeks of heavy shelling prior to the withdrawal.
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Ukraine’s general staff said Russia was refocusing its efforts on attacking the eastern Donetsk province in order to “deplete Ukrainian forces and destroy fortifications,” The AP reported.
This isn’t the first time Russia’s military has shifted focus after failing to capture a Ukrainian city. Russian President Vladimir Putin repositioned forces in the Donbas following their failure to take over Kyiv early on in the war.
In a Friday night address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said while there are still towns under Russian occupation, others have been able to force Russian troops out.
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“The gradual liberation of the Kharkiv region proves that we will not leave anyone to the enemy,” Zelenskyy said.
Despite this victory, Zelenskyy said it’s still unclear how long this war will last and said Ukrainians have been giving their all, but an end to the war would depend on support from outside nations.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other GOP members have made recent visits to Ukraine to show support. First lady Jill Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have also visited Ukraine in recent weeks.
“This will depend, unfortunately, not only on our people, who are already giving their maximum. This will depend on our partners, on European countries, on the entire free world,” Zelenskyy said.