Russian forces appear to be pulling back from Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, the New York Times reported, citing Ukrainian and Western officials. Russian forces have been losing territory in the Kharkiv region as the Ukrainian military’s counteroffensive has broken Russia’s siege of the city.
Officials say Moscow will likely redeploy its troops in the area to the southeast. Russian forces are believed to be bolstering their forces in Izyum, about two hours southeast of Kharkiv. Moscow has used the city as a base of operations to seize more territory in the Donbas.
According to a Washington think tank, the Institute for the Study of War, “The Ukrainian counteroffensive near Kharkiv is starting to look very similar to the counteroffensive that ultimately drove Russian troops away from Kyiv and out of western Ukraine entirely, although it is too soon to tell if the Russians will make a similar decision here.”
Britain’s Defense Ministry called the Russian pullback from Kharkiv “a tacit recognition of Russia’s inability to capture key Ukrainian cities where they expected limited resistance from the population.”
The Ukrainian army has been counterattacking around Kharkiv for about two weeks. On May 9th, Pentagon officials said Russian forces had been pushed back almost 45 kilometers (28 miles) to the east of the city.