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Russia Withdrawing From Kharkiv After Heavy Losses

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Ukrainian soldiers next to a military tracked vehicle in Kharkiv, Ukraine. | Image by Tyler Hicks, The New York Times

According to the UK Ministry of Defense, the Russian Federation has been withdrawing troops from the Kharkiv region of Ukraine, or Kharkiv Oblast as it is known locally. Kharkiv is the second-largest city in Ukraine with a pre-war population of 1.5 million.

The ministry states that  “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“Despite Russia’s success in encircling Kharkiv in the initial stages of the conflict, it has reportedly withdrawn units from the region to reorganize and replenish its forces following heavy losses,” the UK Ministry of Defense said.

“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,” the ministry continued.

The ministry says that the withdrawn troops “will likely deploy to the eastern bank of the Siverskyi Donets River, forming a blocking force to protect the western flank of Russia’s main force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.”

The report comes days after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy alleged that the Russian military is manipulating its casualty reports to hide the actual number of fallen soldiers.

According to Newsweek, the Ukrainian Security Service posted on their official Facebook page that “Russia is recording killed soldiers on the list of [the missing], their bodies are made up on improvised dumps, where ‘two hundred’ are so many that the mountains of corpses reach two meters high.”

NATO estimates that the number of Russian troops killed is between 7,000 and 15,000, with up to 40,000 total either dead, captured, or injured.

President Zelenskyy, however, has stated that he believes the number to be closer to 23,000 dead, based on internal figures and Russia’s alleged manipulation of the casualty reports.

The Russian military action in Ukraine began on February 24.

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