Ukrainian Forces Liberate Areas Near Kharkiv Amid Daring Counter-Attack

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Ukrainian personnel are continuing their valiant defense against the invasion recently launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime. Now, troops fighting back against the Russians in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region have reportedly liberated a pair of settlement areas and obtained more limited — but still present — successes in others. As The Kyiv Independent explained it in a report this weekend, citing Kharkiv-area Governor Oleh Synehubov, Ukrainian military personnel “have liberated the villages of Bazaliivka and Lebyazhe and part of Kutuzivka and advanced in the village of Mala Rohan.” Ukrainian journalist Oleh Novikov was also among those to share some of these details.

The Ukrainian government information source known as Ukrinform also reported on recent revelations from Synehubov, who spoke confidently of Ukrainian capabilities to defend Kharkiv, which is Ukraine’s second-largest city and had a pre-war population of over 1.4 million people. As the Kharkiv-area governor put it, per English translations from Ukrinform: “All attempts by the enemy to capture Kharkiv were and will be in vain and will only lead to even greater losses among the occupiers. The city is under the reliable protection of the Armed Forces, we have repeatedly said that we have foreseen all the scenarios of the Russians. We are well prepared for everyone.”

Author and professor Phillips P. O’Brien remarked that these moves by the Ukrainians “would be very threatening to Russian communications, logistics coming out of Belgorod.” Bazaliivka is roughly in-between Belgorod — inside Russia — and Izium, a Ukrainian population center that’s temporarily fallen under Russia’s control, meaning Ukrainians could be building up access to Russian supply lines. Ukrainian interior ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko, meanwhile, suggested that the “big attack of Russia in Donbas might not happen: Kremlin began to really think and is afraid of possible failure at Donbas.” Donbas refers to areas in the southern and eastern portions of Ukraine, where Russian forces have been believed to be preparing additional offensives alongside the ongoing, expansive violence.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke in an interview aired by CNN this weekend about the high strategic stakes of potentially forthcoming battles over territory in the Donbas region. “This battle — and it can happen, so there will be several battles and we don’t know how long it is going to take — can influence the course of the whole war,” Zelenskyy said, adding that Russian successes in that area could place the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, under threat beyond the current level. Russian ground troops were already near the capital, but they recently exited amid heavy losses imposed by Ukraine’s defense personnel — and in the wake of Ukrainian strategic successes around Kyiv, authorities streaming into the newly liberated areas discovered horrors from life under Russian control. Nearly 1,000 civilian corpses have already been recovered from areas around the capital; many were executed, some with hands tied. Russians never controlled the capital, although there have been reports about Ukrainians stopping Russian sabotage groups that have targeted it. In addition, threats from air attacks continue across Ukraine, including areas where Russian troops don’t control territory.