Ukraine claims halting Russian advance in Kharkiv amid bitter fighting

While Ukraine claimed some success in stalling Moscow’s advance in certain areas, the very fact Russian troops have managed to regain the initiative in Kharkiv underscores the acute manpower and ammunition shortages crippling Kyiv’s overstretched forces.

Ukraine’s military said Thursday it had managed to halt Russian forces from making further territorial gains in parts of the northeastern Kharkiv region, where Moscow’s troops launched a new multi-pronged offensive nearly a week ago.

The spokesman’s comments came after days of Russian forces, bolstered by intensive bombardments, pushing forward in Kharkiv – Ukraine’s second-largest city – on two fronts from Russian-occupied areas of the Donbas region.

While Ukraine claimed some success in stalling Moscow’s advance in certain areas, the very fact Russian troops have managed to regain the initiative in Kharkiv underscores the acute manpower and ammunition shortages crippling Kyiv’s overstretched forces. Ukrainian officials have urgently appealed for more heavy weapons from Western allies.

Russia’s new offensives around the industrial hub of Kharkiv, located just 25 miles from the border, appeared aimed at trying to secure more territory to protect Moscow’s flanks in the Donbas and set conditions for a renewed push toward other key Ukrainian-held cities.

The increased fighting in the northeast has also diverted Ukrainian resources away from the broader battle for the Donbas itself, where Russia has made incremental gains in recent weeks by concentrating its superior firepower.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly address that “very tough fighting” continued to rage in many areas but did not provide specifics.

While Russia has seized more territory from Ukraine’s outgunned and outmanned defenders, any additional territorial gains have come at a grinding pace and extremely high cost for Moscow’s forces.

British military intelligence assessed Thursday that Russia had likely suffered casualties of around 200,000, including up to 40,000 killed, since invading Ukraine over 15 months ago – a staggering death toll reflecting the brutal, trench warfare attritional nature of the conflict.

As the fighting grinds on amid repeated Russian offensives, there were no signs of either side being able to deliver a decisive breakthrough or force the other to the negotiating table any time soon. Both militaries have become increasingly depleted of manpower and materiel, potentially setting the stage for an extended, grinding campaign of attrition.