in Kupiansk, a pocket of Russian resistance in the Ukrainian counter-offensive

In Kupyansk, a pocket of Russian resistance in the Ukrainian counter-offensive

In the Kharkiv region (northeast) bordering Russia, Ukrainian forces say they have taken over thousands of square kilometers this month. But in the city of Kupyansk, a railway junction, their enemy clings. The Russians are entrenched on the other bank of the Oskil river which crosses the city.

On Monday, a stream of civilians sought to flee the bombed city there and where water and electricity have been missing for a week, according to residents. “It’s impossible to stay where we used to live. There were shootings (…) every hour”testified to Agence France-presse Lioudmila, 56, who braved the fighting to cross the river from the east bank to the relative safety of the west bank. “It’s very hard there”she summarizes.

Most of the fire heard Monday came from Ukrainian tanks and artillery, but as a small unit of soldiers from kyiv advanced towards a bridge painted in the red-white-blue colors of Russia, a violent exchange of rockets and shell burst. Ukrainian soldiers took cover under a gutted brick building, as a plume of smoke rose into the sky in the distance. Nearby, a sign proclaims: “We are with Russia. A nation “.

Military experts have judged that a Ukrainian reconquest of Kupiansk, which had some 58,000 inhabitants before the war, made it more difficult to supply the Russian forces deployed further south to protect their gains in the industrial basin of Donbass, a priority strategic objective of the Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Ukrainian troops are now ubiquitous in the city, speeding into rebuilt civilian vehicles or marching in line with sacks of supplies. When Olena first saw them after six months of Russian occupation, she was devastated. “I wanted to burst into tears and laugh at the same time”she says.

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