US says Russia’s advance on Kharkiv is ‘all but over’

The White House said Friday that Russia’s offensive in Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region has stalled and is unlikely to advance any further.

John Kirby, the White House national security spokesperson, said the arrival of U.S. weapons has helped change the trajectory of the battle around Kharkiv, which Russian forces mounted a major attack on around the middle of May.

“They have been able to thwart Russian advances, particularly around Kharkiv,” Kirby said. “The Russians really have kind of stalled out up there [and] … their advance on Kharkiv is all but over because they ran into the first line of defenses of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and basically stopped, if not pulled back, some units.”

He added that Ukraine was still under pressure, and they were not taking anything for granted, but it “appears that they’ve stalled out,” noting that this assessment was shared between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and President Biden when the two met Friday in France to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

In that meeting, Biden apologized for the months-long delay of new U.S. military aid to Ukraine, which Washington and Kyiv have both said led to Russian advances across the battlefield, including in Kharkiv and in the eastern Donetsk region.

In his Thursday speech marking D-Day, Biden argued that it was vital to once again stand up for democracy and freedom as the Allies did in World War II as he compared the fight against Nazi Germany to Russia’s ongoing assault against Ukraine.

Russia’s offensive in Kharkiv came as Ukraine was just beginning to receive new U.S. military aid, with Moscow looking to exploit the delay of more weapons and defenses and take more ground before the assistance arrived in full force.

The renewed push sparked fears that Ukraine would be stretched thin as it also defends against Russian forces pushing forward in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Russia made some gains in Kharkiv when the offensive was launched, capturing towns and progressing toward the city of Kharkiv, but forces are still locked into fighting north of the city, including major battles around the town of Vovchansk.

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