The ongoing war in Ukraine entered day 80 as Russian forces started withdrawing from the northeastern city of Kharkiv, which had been bombarded for weeks.
The Institute for the Study of War, a think-tank based in Washington, has said that Ukraine appears to have won the battle in Kharkiv as it prevented Russian forces from encircling, let alone seizing the city.
Ukraine’s defence minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Saturday that the country was ‘entering a new — long-term — phase of the war,’ a day after President Volodymyr Zelensky said that no one could predict the length of the war.
Here are the top updates:
> The Ukrainian military has launched a counteroffensive near the Russian-held town of Izium, a regional governor said on Saturday. A report by news agency Reuters said that the counteroffensive could prove to be a serious setback for Russia’s plans to capture the entire Donbas region.
> Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said late Saturday that the situation in Donbas remained very difficult and added that Russian forces were still trying to demonstrate some kind of victory.
> Russian President Vladimir Putin warned his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto that relations between Russia and Finland could be negatively affected if the latter applies for a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) membership. “Such a change in the country’s foreign policy could negatively affect Russian-Finnish relations, which had been built in the spirit of good neighbourliness and partnership for many years, and were mutually beneficial,” the Kremlin’s press service said in a statement.
> A large convoy carrying refugees from Mariupol arrived in the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia on Saturday, Reuters reported early Sunday. Earlier, an aide to Mariupol’s mayor said the convoy comprised 500-1,000 cars and represented the largest single evacuation from the city since the beginning of Russia’s offensive on February 24.
> Relatives of Ukrainian soldiers in the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol have asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to act as an intermediary in talks with Moscow to help evacuate the soldiers and provide safe passage to a third country.
(With agency inputs)