The second largest city in Ukraine, Kharkiv, finally may find some relief from the Russian bombing raids that have been terrorizing her for over two months. Ukrainian troops in the region have managed to drive Russian soldiers away from the outskirts of the city. No shelling was reported in the city on Wednesday and Thursday.
The city, just 20 km from the Russian border, saw the first Russian tanks in its streets on the first day of the invasion. Nevertheless, Russia’s plans to quickly capture key Ukrainian cities have failed. The ongoing withdrawal of Russian troops from Kharkiv may be part of the same process that saw its soldiers flee northern Ukraine after being on the verge of defeat by the Ukrainian military.
The Ukrainians have been advancing in three directions, to the north, east and south. Slowly but methodically, they have cleared out the Russians town by town with artillery fire and then gained control with ground forces. Several Russian counteroffensives have been repelled.
Ivan Lysun, a 97-year-old World War II veteran, and his house destroyed by the Russian army in Zolochiv, Kharkiv region.
📸 Oleksandr Brynza pic.twitter.com/QuTjxrG7by
— UKR Embassy in ARG (@UKRinARG) May 11, 2022
However, the danger for the residents of Kharkiv remains high. Kharkiv is within range of multiple rocket launch systems, which can fire from Russian territory. The liberated areas are bombarded by the retreating Russians. It is also unlikely that Ukrainian troops will be able to breach the main Russian logistics route in the eastern Kharkiv region, according to Ukrainian military analyst Mykola Bielieskov.
The road to Izium from Belgorod through Kupiansk is key to the Russian attempt to break through to Sloviansk and Kramatorsk in the south. Part of the reason the Ukrainians managed to drive out the Russians could be that the invaders decided to concentrate their efforts on conquering the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, especially crossing the Siverskyi Donets River to try to encircle the Ukrainian troops near Severodonetsk.
The situation in Lugansk remains extremely difficult as Ukrainian troops try to drive away Russian troops who managed to cross the river. The Ukrainian Army has published images of the destroyed pontoon crossing in Bilogirivka. Some 73 Russian tanks and other military vehicles were destroyed by Ukrainian artillery in what may well be the largest case of Russian troop destruction in the war. However, the Russians crossed the Siversky Donets in the direction of Lyman. The outcome of the battle there is unclear.
The only supply and evacuation route, the road between Bahmut and Lysychansk, is shelled by Russian artillery, causing evacuation is extremely dangerous. 15 thousand people remain in the city of Severodonetsk, without running water, electricity or gas. According to Governor Sergiy Gaidai, the Russians have started kidnapping the locals in Popasna, something they do routinely in all the occupied areas to avoid any kind of opposition.
Artillerymen of the 17th tank brigade of the #UAarmy have opened the holiday season for ruscists. Some bathed in the Siverskyi Donets River, and some were burned by the May sun. pic.twitter.com/QsRsXmnJ65
— Defense of Ukraine (@DefenceU) May 11, 2022
Efforts are underway to evacuate 38 seriously injured soldiers from the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol. Ukrainian defenders have confirmed that there are no civilians left at the besieged plant.
As the fighting rages in the east and south of the country, Russia continues to hit critical infrastructure in various regions. In addition to a massive attack on Zaporizhia that has left one person dead and three wounded, 12 missiles hit the oil refinery and other targets in Kremenchuk, in the central Poltava region. Ukraine has been experiencing the oil deficit after the refinery was stopped due to previous missile attacks. Russia has also claimed that it destroyed two ammunition warehouses in the Chernigiv region. However, local authorities report that it was civilian infrastructure objects, such as a school, that were attacked in Novgorod-Siverskyi.
Another shocking CCTV video from the occupied area near kyiv in March was released by CNN on Thursday. At the beginning it shows how two Ukrainian civilians talk to some Russian soldiers. The meeting appears to end peacefully with two Ukrainians walking away. However, a Russian soldier suddenly kneels behind them and shoots them both in the back. One of the Ukrainians manages to escape and ask for help from Ukrainian volunteers, but eventually dies because a shooting prevents him from receiving medical attention. The Russians are then shown looting the office where the civilians worked.
“The scale of unlawful killings, including indications of summary executions in areas north of kyiv, is shocking,” UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet told a Human Rights Council meeting on Thursday. She indicated that more than a thousand bodies have been recovered in that region alone. The UN special mission team collected first-hand accounts from people whose family members were injured, killed, detained or missing. The council agreed to deepen the investigation of the crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine. Only two countries out of 47 members voted against, China and Eritrea. Bachelet is scheduled to speak on the situation in Mariupol in June. She stated that she was shocked at the extent of the destruction and violation of international law by Russian troops in the city.
Meanwhile, US intelligence has made it clear that it is not providing Ukraine with any information that would facilitate attacks on targets on Russian soil. It is also withholding information on the whereabouts of Russia’s military leaders, such as Army Chief of General Staff Valerii Gerasimov. However, it provides information on the location of Russian command and communication centers in Ukraine to strengthen the Ukrainian defense.