Russian troops are being withdrawn from the Kharkiv front, reports the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine:
“The enemy has not engaged in high-intensity combat activities on the Kharkiv front. Russia’s focus has been on withdrawing its troops from the outskirts of Kharkiv, holding its positions, and maintaining supply routes.”
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) confirms this information. According to its experts, Russia has decided to abandon its positions outside Kharkiv due to the threat of Ukraine launching a counteroffensive and the limited availability of reinforcements.
“Ukraine thus appears to have won the Battle of Kharkiv. Ukrainian forces prevented Russian troops from encircling, let alone seizing Kharkiv, and then expelled them from around the city, as they did to Russian forces attempting to seize Kyiv,” reads the ISW's report.
The experts point out that Ukrainian troops are likely to attempt cutting off at least one – the westernmost – ground line of communication between the Russian city of Belgorod and Russian forces in the vicinity of Izyum. However, Russia is using several such lines, and some of them are much further from the AFU’s current positions. It is therefore not very likely that any Ukrainian counteroffensive may disrupt them in the short term.
Earlier, former Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the AFU Ihor Romanenko told The Insider that pushing the enemy back from Kharkiv and Izyum was the main target of the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the east:
“There are two staging areas: at the very least, we must regain control over Kharkiv and secure it against the enemy's influence – that is, gradually pushing the enemy back with multiple rocket launchers. We have rockets available across all of Ukraine, but the Americans are yet to offer us capabilities regarding M142 multiple rocket launchers, for instance, so that we can fire back. <The Insider's note: The U.S. finalized the transfer of M142 tactical long-range multiple rocket launchers (HIMARS) to Ukraine on May 6.> Those systems have a firing range of 30 to 300 kilometers, depending on the ammunition. Such strikes could effectively deblock Kharkiv and allow us to push the enemy back from the city. For now, I don't see the capacity for a large-scale offensive. The General Staff may have a different opinion, but this is how I see the situation.”