After a vicious battle for Kharkiv: wreckage, a stuck rocket and artillery booms.


KHARKIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s navy on Tuesday was waging a fierce battle to push Russian forces again from Ukraine’s second-largest metropolis, Kharkiv, a day after a vicious combat that littered the freeway main into town with burned-out Russian troop carriers and at the very least one physique.

The troop carriers had been halted on the entrance to town, within the shadow of big blue and yellow letters spelling KHARKIV. Close by, the physique of a Russian soldier, wearing a colorless inexperienced uniform, lay on the aspect of the street, dusted in a light-weight coating of snow that fell in a single day.

Troopers despatched to carry the place had few particulars of the combat that passed off, saying solely that it occurred Monday morning, shortly after Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, gave the order to assault.

“Putin needs us to throw down our weapons,” mentioned a Ukrainian soldier named Andrei, positioned in trench rapidly dug into the black mud on the aspect of the street. “I feel we may function extra slyly, collect up our forces and launch a counterattack.”

Off within the distance however shut sufficient to really feel, artillery shells boomed. Russian forces, which on Monday pushed over the border from their staging space close to Belgorod, about 40 miles from Kharkiv, have gathered in energy north of town. It was not clear the place or whether or not they would advance.

A lot of the preventing seemed to be happening just a few miles exterior town limits, close to a village referred to as Tsyrkuny. The variety of navy and civilian casualties ensuing from the combat have been unclear, however on Monday the native police mentioned a 14-year-old boy had been killed in a village close to Kharkiv when shell hit close to his residence. However strikes sometimes hit shut sufficient to town to elicit shrieks of terror from pedestrians, sending them fleeing into metro stations for canopy.

Whereas Russian officers have mentioned their navy was endeavoring to keep away from civilian areas, the physique of a Smerch rocket, which Ukrainian officers mentioned was fired by Russian forces, was caught vertically in the course of the road exterior the headquarters of the Nationwide Guard. A couple of kilometers away, the rocket’s tail part had buried itself within the asphalt throughout from an onion-domed Orthodox church.

A group of emergency companies officers, wearing flack jackets and helmets, was trying to extract the tail from the pavement, however having difficulties. A member of the group mentioned that the tail and the physique have been completely different phases of the rocket, seemingly jettisoned because the explosive ordinance hurtled towards its goal close to the entrance strains.

“That is 200 kilos of steel,” the emergency officer mentioned, pointing to the rocket’s story. “It may have fallen via a constructing or hit individuals.”

Even because the artillery barrages intensified, not everybody was prepared to cover. Strolling with intention towards the supply of the artillery booms on the outskirts of Kharkiv was Roman Balakelyev, wearing camouflage, a double-barreled shotgun slung over his shoulder.

“I reside right here, that is my residence. I’m going to defend it,” mentioned Mr. Balakelyev, who additionally pulled out a big knife he had strapped to his again as if to point out it off. “I don’t assume the Russians perceive me like I perceive them.”

A short time later, Mr. Balakelyev reached the sting of town, the place the Ukrainian troops have been huddled across the deserted Russian troop transports. They watched as he handed. Nobody moved to cease him. One soldier uttered: “Intent on victory.”

Mr. Balakelyev, his gaze mounted and his shotgun prepared, headed down the street within the course of the booms and a tall billboard that learn: “Shield the long run: UKRAINE-NATO-EUROPE.”


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