Ukraine-Russia War, Kyiv News: Live Updates

February 25, 2022, 11:21 a.m. ET February 25, 2022, 11:21 a.m. ET Credit… Tyler Hicks/The New York Times KHARKIV, Ukraine – The U...

Michael Schwirtz

Credit…Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

KHARKIV, Ukraine – The Ukrainian army was fighting a fierce battle on Tuesday to repel Russian forces from Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, a day after a vicious fight littered the highway leading to the city with transporters of Russian troops burned and minus one body.

The troop transports had stopped at the entrance to the city, shaded by huge blue and yellow letters spelling out KHARKIV. Nearby, the body of a Russian soldier, dressed in a drab green uniform, lay on the side of the road, dusted with a light dusting of snow that fell overnight.

Soldiers sent to man the post had few details of the fight that took place, saying only that it happened Monday morning, shortly after Russian President Vladimir V. Putin issued the order to ‘attack.

“Putin wants us to throw away our weapons,” said a Ukrainian soldier named Andrei, positioned in a hastily dug trench in the black mud by the side of the road. “I think we could operate more sneakily, gather our forces and launch a counterattack.”

In the distance, but close enough to be felt, artillery shells exploded. Russian forces, which crossed the border on Monday from their staging area near Belgorod, about 40 miles from Kharkiv, gathered north of the city. It was unclear where or if they would advance.

Most of the fighting seemed to be taking place a few miles from the city limits, near a village called Tsyrkuny. The number of military and civilian casualties resulting from the scuffle was unclear, but on Monday local police said a 14-year-old boy had been killed in a village near Kharkiv when a shell fell near his home. But strikes sometimes strike close enough to town to elicit cries of terror from pedestrians, sending them fleeing into subway stations for safety.

As Russian officials said their military was trying to avoid civilian areas, the body of a Smerch rocket, which Ukrainian officials said had been fired by Russian forces, was stuck vertically in the middle of the street in front of National Guard headquarters. A few kilometers away, the rear part of the rocket had buried itself in the asphalt in front of an Orthodox church with an onion-shaped dome.

Credit…Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

A team of emergency services officers, dressed in bulletproof vests and helmets, tried to extract the tail from the pavement, but encountered difficulties. A team member said the tail and body were different stages of the rocket, likely jettisoned as high-explosive artillery rushed towards its target near the front lines.

“It’s 200 pounds of metal,” the ER officer said, pointing to the rocket story. “He could have fallen through a building or hit people.”

Even as the artillery barrage intensified, not everyone was ready to hide. Marching intently toward the source of the artillery barrages on the outskirts of Kharkiv was Roman Balakelyev, dressed in camouflage, a double-barreled shotgun slung over his shoulder.

“I live here, this is my home. I will defend him,” said Mr Balakelyev, who also pulled out a large knife he had strapped behind his back as if to show it. “I don’t think the Russians understand me the way I understand them.”

Soon after, Mr. Balakelyev reached the outskirts of the city, where Ukrainian troops were huddled around the abandoned Russian troop carriers. They watched him pass. No one moved to stop him. A soldier uttered: “Intention of victory.

Mr. Balakelyev, his gaze fixed and his shotgun at the ready, walked down the road towards the roadblocks and a large billboard that read: “Protect the future: UKRAINE-NATO-EUROPE”.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Ukraine-Russia War, Kyiv News: Live Updates
Ukraine-Russia War, Kyiv News: Live Updates
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