Kieu, Ukraine (AP) —Russian troops have withdrawn after bombing Ukraine’s second-largest city for several weeks, Ukrainian troops said on Saturday. For the industrial center of the eastern part of the country.

Ukrainian generals withdraw from the northeastern city of Kharkov and supply routes, while Russians launch mortars, artillery and air bombs in eastern Donetsk to “deplete Ukrainian troops and destroy fortresses.” He said he was concentrating on his security.

Defense Minister Olexie Reznikov said Ukraine is “entering a new-long-term-stage of war.”

President Volodymyr Zelensky said the Ukrainians Taking their “maximum” action to ward off the invaders, the outcome of the war will depend on support from Europe and other allies...

“Today, no one can predict how long this war will last,” Zelensky said in his nightly video speech late Friday.

At a supportive show, a delegation of the US Senate, led by Republican leader Mitch McConnell, met with the President of Ukraine on Saturday in Kieu. In a video posted to Zelenskyy’s Telegram account, Kentucky representative McConnell, Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins, Wyoming John Barrasso, and Texas John Cornyn greeted him.

Their trip was after Kentucky’s other senator Rand Paul blocked an additional $ 40 billion approval until next week to help Ukraine and its allies withstand Russia’s three-month-old invasion. came.

After the Russian troops were unable to occupy Kyiv after the invasion on February 24, President Vladimir Putin focused on Donbus, an industrial area where Ukrainian troops have fought against Moscow-backed separatists since 2014. Moved to the east.

The Russian attack aims to surround the eastern-based Ukraine’s most experienced and well-equipped army and occupy part of Ukraine’s controlled Donbus.

Airstrikes and artillery make it very dangerous for reporters to move around the east and hinder efforts to get a complete picture of the direction of the battle. But the fight is a front and back slog, and there are no major breakthroughs on either side.

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Russia occupied several villages and towns of Donbus, including the city of Rubizhne, with a prewar population of about 55,000.

Zelenskyy said Ukrainian troops have also made progress in the east and have regained six Ukrainian towns and villages in the past day.

Not far from the Russian border, just 80 km (50 miles) southwest of the Russian city of Belgorod, Kharkov has been bombarded for several weeks. The pre-war population of 1.4 million, predominantly Russian-speaking cities, was an important Russian military goal in the early days of the war, when Moscow wanted to occupy and retain major cities in Ukraine.

Ukraine said the Washington-based think tank, the Institute for the Study of War, “seems to have won the Battle of Kharkiv.” “Ukrainian troops stopped the siege of Russian troops, not to mention occupying Kharkov, and then expelled them from the perimeter of the city, as did Russian troops trying to occupy Kyiv.”

Regional Governor Oleh Sinegubov said in a Telegram messaging app post that there were no artillery attacks on Kharkov in the past day.

He added that Ukraine launched a counterattack near the city of Izyum, 125 kilometers (78 miles) south of Kharkov. The city has been held by Russia since at least the beginning of April.

Ukraine’s independent military analyst, Oleg Zidanov, said the fighting on the Siverskyi Donets near the city of Severodonetsk was fierce and Ukraine launched a counterattack but could not stop Russia’s advance.

“The fate of most of the Ukrainian army has been determined — there are about 40,000 Ukrainian soldiers,” he said.

However, Russian troops suffered heavy losses from the Ukrainian attack and destroyed the boat bridge used to cross the same river (the largest in eastern Ukraine) in the town of Birohorifka, Ukrainian and British officials said. It was another sign of Moscow’s struggle to save a failed war.

The British Ministry of Defense said Russia had lost at least one battalion tactical group of “significant armor maneuvers” in the attack. The Russian battalion tactical group consists of an army of about 1,000 people.

The ministry said the dangerous river crossing was a sign of “pressure on Russian commanders to advance operations in eastern Ukraine.”

Zelenskyy said in a nightly video speech that the Ukrainians were doing everything they could to get rid of the Russians and called on the West to gain more support.

“Unfortunately, this doesn’t just depend on our people who are already doing their best,” he said. “This depends on our partners, European countries, the entire free world.”

Ukrainian leaders warned that the war is causing food crises around the world as Russia’s blockade blocked the departure of Ukrainian grain.

Group of 7 major economies “The war of aggression in Russia has created one of the most serious food and energy crises in recent history, threatening the most vulnerable people in the world,” he reiterated the warning.

Putin launched a war in Ukraine with the aim of stopping NATO enlargement in Eastern Europe. But with the Ukrainian invasion, he is worried that other nations will come next along the Russian side.

This week, the Finnish president and prime minister said they would support their country seeking NATO accession. Swedish officials are expected to announce a decision on Sunday whether to apply for participation in the Western military alliance.

Putin told Finnish President Sauli Niinistö There is no threat to Finland’s security, and joining NATO would be an “error” that would “negatively affect relations between Russia and Finland.”

The Kremlin said the two leaders had a “frank exchange of ideas” on Saturday’s phone call.

Niinistö said the discussion was “frank, clear and without exaggeration. It was considered important to avoid tension.”

Russia’s reaction to the move between Finland and Sweden has been silent so far, but Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said on Saturday that NATO’s accession heightened security tensions for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, “military it. Turn it into a competitive arena. “

Potential bids in the Nordic countries have been questioned Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that his country was “not in favor” of this idea.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet with his NATO counterparts, including the Turkish Foreign Minister, in Germany this weekend.

Other developments:

— Ukrainian fighters trapped in a steel mill in an abandoned port in southern Mariupol faced continued Russian attacks on the city’s last stand. The Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine said Ukrainian authorities are negotiating the evacuation of 60 troops who were seriously injured from the steelworks. Iryna Vereshchuk said Russia did not agree to evacuate all injured fighters in hundreds of factories.

— Anna Kuznetsova, Vice-Chairman of the Russian Parliament, visited Kherson, an area adjacent to the Black Sea that has been dominated by Russia since the early days of the war. Russia has set up a pro-Moscow local government, and the UK’s Pentagon has said it may hold a referendum when Russia joins Russia, with the result showing majority support for Russia’s withdrawal from Ukraine. It is highly possible that it was operated by.

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This report was contributed by Jesikafish of Bakumut, Yuraskarmanau of Lviv, Mstyslav Chernov of Kharkiv, Elena Becatros of Odesa, Jill Laures of London and other AP staff around the world.

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