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Ukrainian troops “appear to have won the battle of Kharkov” after they were able to drive Russian troops out of the city, a US defense think tank said Friday.
A report from the Institute for the Study of War says Russian forces have failed to hold out against Ukraine’s counterattack around Kharkov in recent days.
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Ukraine’s second-largest city has been under enemy fire since Russia began its invasion in late February.
The think tank said the Kremlin appears to be withdrawing its troops and replacing its army with proxy troops rather than trying to maintain its positions near Kharkov.
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“Ukraine thus appears to have won the battle of Kharkov,” the institute wrote. “Ukrainian forces prevented Russian troops from encircling, let alone taking Kharkiv, and then expelled them from all over the city, as they did with Russian forces attempting to take Kiev.”
Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said in a Facebook post Friday evening that the country “enters a new, long phase of the war” and that he expected “extremely tough weeks”.
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Russia is still attacking villages north of Kharkov. Just north of the city, there was wreckage in the town of Dergachi after what local officials say was a nighttime Russian rocket attack on the House of Culture, which is being used to distribute aid.
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“I can only call it an act of terrorism,” Dergachi Mayor Vyacheslav Zadorenko told Reuters. “They wanted to hit the base where we store supplies and cause a humanitarian catastrophe.”