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Russia’s withdrawal of troops from a Ukrainian region that they encircled at the beginning of the war is proving their “inability to capture key Ukrainian cities,” the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense said Thursday.
In an intelligence update, the Ministry said “Ukrainian forces are continuing to counterattack to the north of Kharkiv, recapturing several towns and villages towards the Russian border.”
“Despite Russia’s success in encircling Kharkiv in the initial stages of the conflict, it has reportedly withdrawn units from the region to reorganize and replenish its forces following heavy losses,” the Ministry continued.
Kharkiv, in Ukraine’s northeast, is the country’s second-largest city with an estimated population of nearly 1.5 million.
“The withdrawal of Russian forces from the Kharkiv Oblast is a tacit recognition of Russia’s inability to capture key Ukrainian cities where they expected limited resistance from the population,” it added.
The Ministry says the withdrawn forces “will likely deploy to the eastern bank of the Siverskyi Donets River, forming a blocking force to protect the western flank of Russia’s main force concentration and main supply routes for operations in the vicinity of Izyum.”
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has lasted 78 days.