Ukrainian forces recaptured the town of Pytomnyk outside Kharkiv in the northeast of the country on Wednesday, the latest in a string of victories that has brought Ukrainian forces within miles of the Russian border.
The liberation of Pytomnyk, a town about 25 kilometers from the Russian border, comes a day after Ukrainian authorities announced the recapture of four other villages outside Kharkov.
The combined counter-attacks effectively pushed Russian artillery out of range of Ukraine’s second-largest city while putting pressure on the Russian border and supply lines.
“We are making successes towards Kharkov, where we are steadily pushing back the enemy and liberating population centers,” Brigadier General Oleksiy Hromov, deputy head of the Operations Main Directorate of the Ukrainian General Staff, said on Wednesday.
Ukraine has also returned the fighting to Snake Island – the Black Sea base captured in the opening act of the war, in which Ukrainian forces famously told the Russian cruiser Moskva, “Go fk [it]self.”
Ukrainian forces have targeted Russian air defenses on the island, as well as Russian supply ships in an attempt to disrupt Russia’s attempt to control Ukraine’s coast, the Defense Ministry said.
Ukrainian authorities also reported that they shot down a cruise missile en route to the historic port of Odessa, which has been heavily bombed by Russian forces in recent days.
Russian missiles fell outside Zaporizhzhya, the city on the Dnipro River to which many residents of the destroyed city of Mariupol have fled. There were no immediate reports of casualties following the strike.
Russian attacks inside Mariupol continued, while the last Ukrainian holdouts called for extraction.
The news comes as:
- Top US intelligence officials warn that Russia could turn to increasingly “unpredictable and drastic” tactics in its war against Ukraine — with the ever-present threat of nuclear war against the West.
- According to an intercepted phone call from Ukraine’s security services, the bodies of thousands of Russian soldiers have been piled into a heap “as big as a man” to hide the true extent of the casualties.
- Czech President Milos Zeman has approved a request from 103 Czechs to join the Ukrainian armed forces to help them fight Russian aggression. Czech citizens are usually not allowed to serve in foreign armies, which is a crime punishable by up to five years in prison.
Meanwhile, Ukraine on Wednesday announced plans for its first war crimes trial against a captured Russian soldier.
Ukrainian Attorney General Iryna Venediktova has charged 21-year-old Russian sergeant Vadin Shyshimarin with shooting an unarmed 62-year-old civilian who was riding a bicycle in late February, four days after the war started.
Under Ukrainian law, Shyshimarin can face up to 15 years in prison.
The prosecutor general’s office is investigating more than 10,700 allegations of Russian war crimes and has identified more than 600 suspects.
In the east, Ukraine’s natural gas pipeline operator cut off the flow of Russian gas to Western Europe, alleging that Russian-backed separatist forces in the Donbas were sucking the supply. The shutdown is the most profound impact on the flow of Russian energy to Europe since the start of the war.
With pole wires