Russia removes forces outside Kharkiv in major Ukraine breakthrough
The Russian Defense Ministry said Saturday that it had removed forces away from areas outside the major Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, a major development in the ongoing war.
Why it matters: Ukraine may have taken thousands of square miles of territory in what might have been the fastest breakthrough in months.
The latest: State-run media agency TASS reported Saturday that the Russian defense ministry said troops were removed from regions Balakleya and Izyum to bolster its efforts in Donetsk.
- The ministry said "the decision was made to regroup Russian troops" in Donetsk, per CNN.
- “The Izyum-Balakleyskaya grouping of Russian troops was rolled up in three days and transferred to the territory of the DPR,” the statement said, per TASS.
Details: The announcement came after Ukrainian troops reached a major railway city in the northeastern part of the country, potentially cutting off the supply for Russian forces, Reuters reports.
- Ukraine recently gained ground in the railway city of Kupiansk, where all the rail lines link together and connect Russia to eastern Ukraine, Reuters reports.
- This may have trapped thousands of Russian troops since Ukraine's advance "penetrated all the way to Moscow's main logistics route," according to Reuters.
Zoom in: Police were seen walking through towns where Russian ammunition boxes were found abandoned, signaling that Russian troops may have left the area, Reuters reports.
- Ukraine's military reportedly closed in on Izyum, too, which is considered a Russian stronghold city, the New York Times reports.
What they're saying: "Russian forces were likely taken by surprise. The sector was only lightly held and Ukrainian units have captured or surrounded several towns," the British military said, according to NPR.
What we're watching: Ukraine's military did not announce that it had entered Kupiansk.
Go deeper: CIA chief says Russia will pay "a heavy price" for war on Ukraine