Ukraine’s general staff said over the weekend that Russian troops were withdrawing from the northeastern city of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. Video shared on social media by Ukrainian officials Sunday purported to show Ukrainian troops in Kharkiv moving all the way to the Russian border and reinstalling a border sign on the Ukrainian side, reclaiming the territory. Kharkiv has been bombarded by Russian forces since the start of Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion.
“I am grateful to everyone who holds the line and brings closer to Donbas, Pryazovia, and Kherson the same thing that is happening now in the Kharkiv region,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday. “Step by step we are forcing the occupiers to leave our land. We will make them leave the Ukrainian sea as well.”
The Ukrainian counteroffensive in Kharkiv began in early May and is reminiscent of the late March and early April battle in the Kyiv region that pushed Russian forces out of Ukraine and north into Belarus.
Video shared by Ukrainian officials and others on social media Sunday purported to show the 227th battalion of the 127th Territorial Defense Brigade of Ukraine reaching the border with Russia in the Kharkiv region and reinstalling a post painted in blue and yellow stripes, the colors of the Ukrainian flag, along the border.
According to the Ukrainian military, Russian forces are now focusing on guarding supply routes and attacking Ukrainian forces and fortifications in the eastern Donetsk region, where Russian progress has largely stalled, according to Western officials.
A lieutenant in the Territorial Defense Brigade told Reuters that he remains concerned that Russian forces may try to make another push to reclaim the Kharkiv region, unlike what happened in Kyiv last month.
“We think it’s possible that the Russians will come back,” said the lieutenant who goes by “Mikhayl.”
“Putin will never forgive us. It will be difficult for him to explain to the Russian people why his special operation is over.”