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Ukrainian forces “appear to have won” the battle for Kharkiv after being able to expel Russian troops from the city, a US defense think tank said on Friday.
A report by the Institute for the Study of War said Russian forces had made no attempt to hold their own against Ukraine’s counterattack around Kharkiv 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 seeking to replace its army with proxy forces instead of trying to maintain its positions near Kharkiv.
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“The Ukraine therefore seems to have won the battle of Kharkiv”, writes the institute. “Ukrainian forces prevented Russian troops from encircling, let alone seizing Kharkiv, then driving them out of the city, as they did Russian forces trying to seize Kyiv. “
On Friday evening, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said in a Facebook post that the country was “entering a new and long phase of the war” and that he was anticipating “extremely difficult weeks”.
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Russia is still attacking villages north of Kharkiv. Just north of the city, there was wreckage in the town of Dergachi following what local officials said was an overnight Russian missile attack on the House of Culture, which is used to distribute help.
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“I can’t call it anything other than a terrorist act,” Dergachi Mayor Vyacheslav Zadorenko told Reuters. “They wanted to hit the base where we store supplies and create a humanitarian catastrophe.”