Ukrainian Forces have repelled a Russian attempt to grasp Kharkiv, the city’s governor claimed on Sundayfollowed by fierce fighting and street battles with advancing Russian troops.
Kharkiv Governor Oleh Synyehubov said Ukrainian soldiers were now “cleaning up” the eastern city. He said Russian soldiers surrendered in groups of five to ten and threw their equipment in the middle of the street.
“Kharkiv is completely under our control!” Synjehubov posted on Facebook. “There is a complete cleansing of the city from the enemy. The Russian enemy is absolutely demoralized.”
Earlier, the governor said that light Russian military vehicles broke “into the city,” including in central areas. They arrived in the northern suburbs at 8 a.m., he said. He urged all civilians to stay indoors. “Citizens of Kharkiv, do not leave the accommodation, do not use any means of transport,” he said.
Videos circulating on social media showed images of Russian troops moving through residential areas and past Soviet-era apartment blocks. Soldiers on foot used armored vehicles for cover. Their vehicles were marked with Z, the symbol of the four-day Russian invasion.
However, other footage indicated that the Ukrainian military had inflicted casualties. There were pictures of a ruined Russian column and images of a firefight in the south-east of the city. A group of Russian soldiers took refuge in an empty school, number 88, near the Traktornyi Zavod metro station, witnesses said.
Ukrainian soldiers armed with Kalschnikovs and mortars hid behind a wall and trees and emerged to open fire. Fighting around Shevchenko Avenue was reported. In another part of the city, local militants stalked wrecked Russian vehicles, inspecting the damage and recovering military equipment.
The Russian operation’s attempt to capture Kharkiv followed a night of heavy bombardment. At least one multi-story apartment building was hit. Local residents said the attacks were “massive and indiscriminate,” with a missile landing in a children’s playground next to a seesaw.
Artem Volodymyrovich, a 31-year-old English teacher, said Russian units had advanced from the north. They passed Peremoha metro station, the terminus of the city’s green line, and headed towards the center, he told the Guardian, speaking from a basement shelter.
“Russian diversionary groups entered Kharkiv. We can hear gunshots. Our army is still in town. Ukrainians are still in control, volunteers are working, the mayor is in charge and we are fighting back,” he said at 11 a.m. local time.
Volodymyrovich said he was hiding in a basement with 30 people, mostly women, children and the elderly. One of the group was an electrician who fixed the power supply so people could charge their phones. It was his third night at a shelter, he said.
“The bombing was really heavy. The subway ceased operations on Thursday afternoon and is now being used as an air raid shelter. The trains were opened. People sleep in them because there is not enough space on the platforms.”
The city would defeat the occupying Russian forces, he predicted. “I think so. We are home. People are fighting for their own homes, their families, their loved ones. For them it’s an invasion, for us it’s a defense.”
He added: “I’m not a military guy. But when it comes down to it, before I die like that, I’ll take a friggin’ machine gun and sit inside and get shot when they storm the basement. It is better to die with your arms in your hands.”
Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Minister who posted videos of the battle on his Telegram channel, said the Russian army had outdone itself. “Kharkiv becomes a Ukrainian Stalingrad for the Russians,” he wrote.
It was too early to say on Sunday whether Moscow would make another attempt to capture Kharkiv – or give up. The brutal shelling of a city of 1.4 million showed Russia is now deliberately shelling civilians in suburbs, locals said.
in a (n Address posted onlineUkrainian President Voldymyr Zelenskyj described last night as brutal: “More shots, more bombings of residential areas and civilian infrastructure,” he said.
He added: “Today there is nothing in the country that the occupiers do not see as an acceptable target. They fight everyone. They fight against all living things – against kindergartens, against apartment buildings and even against ambulances.”
He said Russian forces “launched rockets and missiles at entire neighborhoods where there is no military infrastructure and never has been. “Vasylkiv, Kiev, Chernigiv, Sumy, Kharkiv and many other cities in Ukraine live in conditions last experienced in our country during World War II,” he claimed.