If you’re just joining us, here’s what you need to know about the latest developments in Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited newly liberated Izium: Ukrainian forces took back control of the northeastern region of Kharkiv on Saturday. Zelensky thanked the military Wednesday and observed a minute of silence to honor those who had been lost in the war.
Izium’s liberation is a huge strategic blow to Russia’s military assault in the east as it had become an important hub for Moscow to launch attacks southward into the Donetsk region and Kupyansk.
About 8,000 square kilometers (3,088 square miles) of territory has been liberated by Ukrainian forces so far this month, according to Zelensky. Most of this reclaimed land is in the country’s northeast and south, he added.
The counteroffensive is, however, slowing down: Ukraine is liberating swathes of territory from Russia’s occupation in the east, but presidential military adviser Oleksiy Arestovych says the country’s counteroffensive has “slowed down slightly because most of the Ukrainian forces are fighting to capture the city of Lyman, to open our way into the Luhansk region. We will intensify our strikes and liberate new territories in a different way,” he told CNN’s Becky Anderson in an interview.
Lyman, an important rail hub, is roughly 60 kilometers (37 miles) west of the strategically important Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk.
The US says Russian forces retreated back across the border: “We’ve seen a number of Russian forces, especially in the northeast, in the Kharkiv region, cross over the border back into Russia as they’ve retreated from the Ukrainian counter-offensive,” Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters during a briefing Tuesday. But Russian forces still “do exist en masse in Ukraine,” he added.
But Russia has been trying to gain ground in other parts of Ukraine: The Ukrainian military’s General Staff said Ukrainian units had successfully repelled Russian attacks around the city of Bakhmut, while Russian artillery and air force are pounding settlements near the front lines across Donetsk. There was also Russian mortar and tank fire in the Zaporizhzhia region, the General Staff said.
Looting claims: The military claimed that in the south, around the city of Polohy, Russian troops were also stealing private cars. And in Nova Kakhovka, in the Kherson region, Russians “began to massively remove furniture and household appliances from temporarily abandoned settlements.” CNN is unable to confirm the military’s claims, but there has been widespread evidence of looting in Kharkiv and other previously occupied Russian areas.
Russian shelling killed at least two people and injured six in Mykolaiv: The head of the region’s civil military administration provided this update, adding that educational institution, infrastructure facilities and residential buildings were damaged in the southern port city near the Black Sea on Wednesday. Ukrainian officials claim that they’ve taken back about 500 square kilometers of territory in the south so far, along the borders of Mykolaiv and Kherson.