Ukrainian Zelensky rebels Russia withdraws from Kharkov

Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) —Ukraine’s rebellious president, Volodymyr Zelensky, vowed to host a singing contest in the embarrassed city of Mariupol early Sunday. Hundreds of Ukrainian fighters working hard at the steelworks.

Ukrainian Karsh Orchestra wins The popular contest for the song “Stephania” is National anthem popular among Ukrainians During the war, and the victory was morale boosting.

“Our courage impresses the world and our music conquers Europe,” Zelensky said on Facebook. “Ukraine will host Eurovision next year!”

During the show, the band made a fervent plea to help fighters at the port city of Azovstal Iron and Steel, and Zelensky said the “someday” contest would be held “in Mariupol, Ukraine”. ..

The president’s optimism comes when Russian troops are withdrawing from Kharkov, the country’s second largest city, after bombing Kharkov for several weeks. Crushing battle For the industrial center of the eastern part of the country.

Ukrainian troops launched mortars, artillery and air bombs in the eastern part of Donetsk to “deplete Ukrainian troops and destroy fortresses” while the Russian troops focused on protecting supply routes in the northeast. He said he was withdrawing from the city.

Defense Minister Olexi Reznikov said Ukraine is “entering a new, long-term stage of war.”

Russian troops control the horseshoe-shaped territory of the Ukrainian region of Donetsk and Luhansk, which make up the eastern Donbas region, along the boundaries of the industrial area where Ukraine has fought against Moscow-backed separatists since 2014. ..

In southern Donbus, the ports of the Sea of ​​Azov in Mariupol are now largely under Russian control, with the exception of the hundreds of troops remaining in the steelworks.

Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Irina Bereschuk, said authorities are negotiating the evacuation of 60 troops who were seriously injured at the steelworks. ..

After failing to occupy Kyiv after the February 24 invasion, Russian President Vladimir Putin aims to surround Ukraine’s most experienced and well-equipped army and occupy territory under Ukrainian control. Then, I turned my focus to the east and moved to Donbus.

Airstrikes and artillery make it very dangerous for journalists to move around the east and hinder efforts to get a complete picture of the battle. But it’s like a slog before and after with no big breakthroughs on either side.

Russia occupied several villages and towns of Donbus, including Rubizhne, which had a prewar population of about 55,000.

Zelenskyy said Ukrainian troops also made progress in the east and regained six towns and villages in the past day. In a Saturday night speech, he said, “The situation in Donbus is still very difficult,” and the Russian army “is trying to win at least to some extent.”

“Step by step, we are forcing residents to leave the land of Ukraine,” Zelensky said.

Close to the Russian border, just 80 km (50 miles) southwest of the Russian city of Belgorod, Kharkov has been heavily bombarded for several weeks. The pre-war population of 1.4 million, predominantly Russian-speaking cities, was an early major military goal of the war that Moscow wanted to occupy and retain major cities.

Ukraine “seems to have won the Battle of Kharkiv,” said the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank. “Ukrainian troops stopped the siege of Russian troops, not to mention occupying Kharkov, and then expelled them from the perimeter of the city, as did Russian troops trying to occupy Kyiv.”

Regional Governor Oleh Sinegubov said there were no artillery attacks on Kharkov in the past day via the Telegram messaging app.

He added that Ukraine launched a counterattack near the city of Izyum, 125 kilometers (78 miles) south of Kharkov. The city has been dominated by Russia since at least the beginning of April.

Ukraine’s independent military analyst, Oleg Zidanov, said the fighting on the Siverskyi Donets near the city of Severodonetsk was fierce and Ukraine launched a counterattack but could not stop Russia’s advance.

“The fate of most of the Ukrainian army has been determined — there are about 40,000 Ukrainian soldiers,” he said.

However, Russian troops suffered heavy losses in the Ukrainian attack that destroyed the pontoon bridge that was being used to cross the same river in the town of Birohorifka, Ukrainian and British officials said.

The British Ministry of Defense said Russia had lost at least one battalion tactical group of “significant armor maneuvers” in the attack. The Russian battalion tactical group consists of an army of about 1,000 people.

The ministry said the dangerous river crossing was a sign of “pressure on Russian commanders to advance operations in eastern Ukraine.”

Putin justified the war in Ukraine by claiming that it was a response to NATO enlargement in Eastern Europe.

But worried that the aggression could bring other nations along the Russian side, last week the Finnish president and prime minister said they supported seeking NATO membership. Swedish officials are expected to announce a decision on Sunday whether to apply for participation in the Western military alliance.

On Saturday’s phone, Putin told Finnish President Sauli Niinistö There is no threat to Finland’s security, and joining NATO is a “mistake” and “has a negative impact on relations between Russia and Finland.”

Potential bidding in the Nordic countries Thrown into a problem Friday, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country was “not a positive opinion.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was scheduled to meet with his NATO counterparts in Germany this weekend, including the Turkish Foreign Minister.


This report was contributed by Jesikafish of Bakumut, Yuraskarmanau of Lviv, Mstyslav Chernov of Kharkiv, Elena Becatros of Odesa, Jill Laures of London and other AP staff around the world.


Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine.