Russian troops in Ukraine appear to be retreating rapidly from the areas around Kharkiv, while Ukrainian armed forces are making significant progress north and northwest of the city, as evidenced by unverified maps tracing the invasion of Moscow into the neighboring country.
@War_Mapper, a Twitter account that has mapped the Russian invasion of Ukraine since February 24 using drones and satellite images of Ukraine, reported on Tuesday that Ukraine launched two offensives near Kharkiv, where Ukrainian troops took the settlements of Slobozhanske, Borshchova, Rus’ ki Tyshky and Cherkas’ki north of the city and Bairak, Rubizhne, Verkhnii, Saltiv and Zamilivka northwest of Kharkiv.
On the other hand, near Izyum, a town over 70 miles from Kharkiv, Russian troops have made progress in taking control of the village of Velyka Komyshuvakha, according to the Twitter account. Russian troops have entered Derylove and Drobysheve, two villages northeast of Lyman, a town in Donetsk Oblast, according to @War_Mapper.
The Russian state news agency RIA FAN covered the conquest of the village of Velyka Komyshuvakha.
These allegations have not been officially confirmed by either the Ukrainian military or the Russian authorities.
The Ukrainian armed forces claimed to have recaptured five villages near Kharkiv in an evening report on May 6, stating that the troops had gained control of Oleksandrivka, Fedorivka, Ukrainka, Shestakovo, Peremoha and part of Cherkasky Tyshky.
According to the latest data from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), Russian forces have stalled in the area around Izyum and have not made any confirmed progress to the southeast or southwest of the city since May 9th. But the institute added that Russian troops “probably tried to concentrate the forces needed to resume offensive operations in the coming days”.
ISW said Russian troops made marginal progress in areas around Luhansk Oblast city of Severodonetsk, just a few hours drive from villages @War_Mapper said they were captured in Donetsk Oblast on Tuesday.
He added that Russian troops continued to gather troops in Belgorod Oblast to prevent Ukrainian troops from moving beyond Kharkiv towards the border.
Despite the redirection of troops to the Donbas region, where Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine is now centered, Russia does not appear to have made significant progress in recent weeks. Ukraine’s counterattack near Kharkiv has proved effective in detaining Russian troops and even rejecting them if the data observed by Twitter’s military observer @War_Mapper are to be true.
These small but significant defeats from the Russian army would precede the massive withdrawal from the areas around Kiev ordered by Moscow in early April, enabling Ukrainian troops to recapture vast territories around the country’s capital.
Last weekend, the ISW reported that the Ukrainian counter-offensive north-east of Kharkiv made significant progress “and is likely to advance to the Russian border in the coming days or weeks.”
The destruction of three bridges by Russian troops in the area around Kharkiv, as reported by the Ukrainian General Staff, is, according to the ISW, a sign that Russian troops do not intend to return to these territories.
“Armies generally only destroy bridges if they have largely decided that they will not try to cross the river in the other direction soon; it is therefore unlikely that Russian forces will launch operations to recapture the northeastern suburb of Kharkiv, which is liberated by Ukrainian forces for the foreseeable future, an ISW report of May 7 said.
ISW estimates that Russian forces will not be able to contain a advance of Ukrainian troops at the border, which is expected in the coming days.
News week contacted the Russian Ministry of Defense and the Ukrainian Armed Forces for comment.