Russia is reinforcing besieged military units in Kharkiv as it struggles to counter a Ukrainian advance that has brought Kyiv troops to the edge of two key cities in the region.
Ukrainian forces have reached the western outskirts of Kupiansk and also attacked south towards Izium after advancing more than 50 kilometers (31 miles) into Russian-held territory since earlier this week.
The lightning advance has set the stage for what appears to be an imminent confrontation over the two key areas, considered strategically important by both sides. Russia is currently using Kupiansk as a rail hub to resupply its forces and Izium as a launch pad for attacks south into the Donetsk region.
Video footage taken by a Russian military journalist, Yevgeniy Poddubny, shows Russian helicopters arriving in the region and at least one unloading an armored vehicle.
Poddubny reported that the Russian military headquarters was using Mi-26 helicopters to reinforce units in Kharkiv with men and armored vehicles, redeploying reserve troops in both Kupiansk and Izium.
“Helicopters are arriving at landing points along the line of contact… Reinforcements will help stop any further advance of the Kyiv regime,” Poddubny said.
In a later report, he said that Kupiansk had come under artillery fire from the Ukrainian armed forces and that a bridge across the Oskil River in the city had been badly damaged.
“Our reserves are reaching the front line,” Poddubny said. “The defense of Kupiansk continues”.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday that his troops had “liberated and taken control of more than 30 settlements in the Kharkiv region.”
“Measures are being taken to control and secure the territory in some villages in the region, we are gradually taking control of new settlements, we are returning the Ukrainian flag and protection for all our people everywhere,” Zelensky said in his daily address. .
scenes of destruction
Advancing Ukrainian troops have reported scenes of destruction as they retake areas from Russian control.
The head of the military administration of the Kharkiv region, Oleh Syniehubov, said he had toured recently liberated areas where the Russians had “left behind broken infrastructure and houses, lots of trophies and heaps of garbage,” and posted photos of the scenes on Telegram.
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