Russian troops appeared to withdraw from the suburbs of Ukraine’s second-largest city on Saturday, but fighting intensified in other parts of the confused country, and Ukrainian officials said a “new long-term stage” of conflict. In the summer when I predicted that it would last for a long time.

Local and military officials said Russian troops were withdrawing from the north of Kharkov. Kharkov has been facing relentless bombardment since the war began 80 days ago and is heading for the Russian border. An analysis released by the US-based think tank War Institute supported these claims, stating that Ukraine “is likely to have won the Battle of Kharkiv.”

“Instead of occupying Kharkov, Ukrainian troops stopped the siege of Russian troops and then expelled them from the perimeter of the city, similar to Russian troops trying to occupy Kyiv,” the institute said. rice field.

Ukraine’s interests came amid rising geopolitical tensions as finish and Swedish officials endangered Russia’s anger by attending a NATO meeting on Saturday.

The Foreign Ministers of Sweden and Finland were scheduled to meet with NATO representatives in Germany after the leaders of both countries showed a keen interest in joining the defense alliance. Finnish President Sauli Niinistö told Russia’s President Vladimir Putin on Saturday that the Ukrainian invasion had radically changed the “Finnish security environment” that shares a border of more than 800 miles with Russia. .. The country will seek NATO membership “within a few days”.

The news was welcomed by the United States and several NATO member states, but infuriated Russia, which saw the expansion of NATO’s territory as a threat to its security.

The Kremlin said on Saturday that Putin warned Niinistö that if Finland applied for NATO, the relationship between neighbors could be “badly affected”.

And as a sign of the economic power Russia is exercising in much of Europe, Finnish utility Fingrid said on Saturday that Russia had cut off its electricity supply to the country. A representative of the company said Finland “can handle” and that the power grid will not be interrupted.

On Saturday, President Volodymyr Zelensky and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) made an unannounced visit to Republican leader Kib while Congress was considering additional aid to Ukraine. Said I met. Officials, including Congressman Nancy Pelosi (Republican-San Francisco), have toured the Ukrainian capital in recent weeks.

Zelensky said on Instagram that the meeting was “a strong signal of bipartisan support for Ukraine from the US Congress and the American people.”

Photos and videos also show Senator Susan Collins (Republican), John Barrasso (Republican), and John Cornyn (Republican) of the delegation.

Immediate action against a bipartisan bill to give Ukraine an additional $ 40 billion in emergency humanitarian and military aid was thwarted by Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul.

At the same time, fighting continued throughout Ukraine, the first war crimes trial of Russian soldiers began in Kieu on Friday, and Russia accused the death of civilians in a Russian village near the Ukrainian border.

In an overnight speech, Zelensky said the hotspots continued to include the southern city of Mariupol. Hundreds of Ukrainian civilians have fled the pits and tunnels of the vast Azovstal ironworks, Kyiv’s last fort in the shattered southern port city of the Sea of ​​Azov.

“We will not stop trying to save everyone from Mariupol and Azovstal. Currently, very difficult negotiations are underway in the next phase of the evacuation mission,” Zelensky said. The president did not disclose the exact number, but said that “many” individuals remained trapped in the complex.

In an interview with SkyNews on Saturday, Ukraine’s military intelligence leader Kyrylo Budanov said he predicted that fighting across the country would continue until the summer, perhaps prematurely predicting Ukraine’s victory.

“The break point will be in the second half of August. Most of the active combat action will end by the end of this year,” he said.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Olexi Reznikov provided a more cautious assessment in a Facebook post. “We are entering a new long-term stage of war,” he said. While welcoming the increasing supply of western weapons to his country, he said he expects “a very difficult week” and “how many? No one is sure. I can’t tell you. ”

The United Nations estimated that more than 14 million people were expelled from the war in Ukraine this week. That number represents about one-third of the country’s population. The United Nations also reported the deaths of more than 3,500 civilians, but said the actual numbers were probably much higher.

McDonnell reported from Lviv, Ukraine, from Calem, London and Linsicum, Mexico City.

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