KHARKIV, Ukraine – The Ukrainian military on Friday waged a fierce battle to push Russian forces back out of Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, a day after a fierce skirmish scattered across the highways. The speeding lead into the city with the Russian army aircraft carrier was burned and at least one body.
The troop ships were stopped at the entrance to the city, in the shadow of giant blue and yellow letters spelling KHARKIV. Nearby, the body of a Russian soldier, dressed in a gray-blue military uniform, lay on the side of the road, covered with a light layer of snow that had fallen overnight.
The soldiers sent to hold the position have very few details about the fighting that took place, only saying that it happened on Thursday morning, shortly after Russian President Vladimir V. Putin ordered the attack. .
“Putin wants us to throw away our weapons,” said a Ukrainian soldier named Andrei, who was in a trench, hastily dug into the black mud by the side of the road. “I think we can act more cunningly, gather forces and launch a counter-attack.”
At a distance but close enough to feel, shells rumbled. Russian forces, which on Thursday swept across the border from their staging area near Belgorod, about 40 miles from Kharkiv, have concentrated their strength north of the city. It is not clear where they will go.
Most of the fighting seems to be taking place a few miles outside the city limits, near a village called Tsyrkuny. The number of military and civilian casualties from the fighting is unclear, but on Friday local police said a 14-year-old boy was killed in a village near Kharkiv when hit by shells near his home. But strikes sometimes happen close enough to the city to cause screams of terror from passersby, sending them fleeing into subway stations for cover.
While Russian officials said their troops were trying to avoid civilian areas, the wreck of a Smerch missile, which Ukrainian officials say was fired by Russian forces, got stuck vertically in the middle of the side street. outside the headquarters of the National Guard. A few kilometers away, the rocket’s tail was buried in the asphalt opposite an Orthodox church with an onion dome.
A group of emergency services workers, wearing light jackets and helmets, were trying to pull the tailgate off the sidewalk, but had difficulty. A member of the research team said that the tail and fuselage are different stages of the missile, capable of exploding when the explosive hits a target near the frontline.
“This is 200 kilograms of metal,” said the emergency worker, pointing to the story of the rocket. “It could fall through a building or hit people.”
Understanding Russia’s Attack on Ukraine
What is the root cause of this invasion? Russia considers Ukraine to be within its natural sphere of influence, and it is extremely worried about Ukraine’s proximity to the West and the prospect of it joining NATO or the European Union. Although Ukraine is also not included in this category, it receives financial and military aid from the United States and Europe.
Even as artillery positions intensified, not everyone was ready to hide. Walking with intent toward the source of the artillery explosions on the outskirts of Kharkiv was Roman Balakelyev, dressed in camouflage, a double-barreled handgun slung over his shoulder.
“I live here, this is my home. I will protect it,” said Mr. Balakelyev, who also pulled a large knife from his back as if to show off. “I don’t think the Russians understand me the way I understand them.”
Shortly after, Mr. Balakelyev reached the edge of the city, where Ukrainian troops were clustered around abandoned Russian troop carriers. They watched as he passed. No one moved to stop him. One soldier exclaimed: “Intent to win.”
Mr. Balakelyev, eyes fixed and pistol ready, walked down the street in the direction of poles and a tall billboard that read: “Protect the future: UKRAINE-NATO-EUROPE.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/25/world/europe/kharkiv-ukraine-military.html After a fierce battle for Kharkiv: wreckage, a stuck rocket and artillery explosions.