Ukraine “appears to have won the Battle of Kharkiv,” a US think tank said.
The Russian military has withdrawn from its positions around Ukraine’s second-largest city “in the face of Ukrainian counteroffensives and the limited availability of reinforcements,” said the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
Russian units were unable to hold ground against the Ukrainian fighters over the past several days, the ISW said, and were prevented from encircling the city in northeast Ukraine.
As they retreated, however, they continued to bombard the eastern Donetsk province in order to “deplete Ukrainian forces and destroy fortifications,” the Ukrainian military said Saturday.
Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said the country was “entering a new – long-term – phase of the war.”
The comments came two days after a major Ukranian victory at the Siverskiy Donets River, an area about 25 miles east of Kharkiv which Russia previously controlled. The battle ended with Russian tanks and other destroyed equipment littering the area around the river.
Ukranian forces have moved into some of the villages surrounding Kharkiv that have been controlled by Russia since the early days of the war, CNN reported.
The mayor of Kharkiv told the BBC that the Russians withdrew from the city and were moving in the direction of the Russian border. Ihor Terekhov said Russian troops never occupied the city, but entered just a small part of it once, and had not been there for some time.
“The Russians were constantly shelling Kharkiv because they were staying very close to the city,” Terekhov said. “Now it is calm in Kharkiv and people are gradually coming back to the city. We provide water, gas and electricity supply to all the citizens. However, unfortunately, many residential buildings are destroyed or damaged. So, in the future we will have to do huge reconstruction.”
“There was no shelling in the city for the last five days. There was only one attempt from Russians to hit the city with a missile rocket near Kharkiv airport, but the missile was eliminated by Ukrainian Air Defense,” Terekhov said.
Separately, Ukraine’s head of military intelligence said the war is going so well he expects it to reach a turning point by mid-August and be over by the end of the year.
Major General Kyrylo Budanov told Sky News he’s “optimistic” about the progress of the war.
“The breaking point will be in the second part of August,” he said. “Most of the active combat actions will have finished by the end of this year.”
The same official correctly predicted when the invasion would happen, while others in his government questioned the idea that Russia would start the war.
He now predicts Ukraine will not only drive Russia out, but reclaim both the eastern breakaway regions known as the Donbas and the Crimea, which Russia seized in 2014.
“We know everything about our enemy. We know about their plans almost as they’re being made,” Budanov said. “Europe sees Russia as a big threat. They are afraid of its aggression.
“We have been fighting Russia for eight years and we can say that this highly publicized Russian power is a myth. It is not as powerful as this. It is a horde of people with weapons.”
Budanov also said a coup to remove Vladimir Putin is already under way in Russia and the Russian leader is seriously ill with cancer.
His bold predictions were countered by Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who said in his nightly address that “no one can predict how long this war will last.”
With Post Wires