Ukrainian forces have arrived on the western outskirts of Kupiansk and have advanced more than 50 kilometers (31 miles) into Russian territory since earlier this week before heading south towards Izium.
Video footage taken by Russian military journalist Evgeny Podubny shows Russian helicopters arriving in the area and at least one unloading an armored vehicle.
Poddubny reported that the Russian command was using Mi-26 helicopters to reinforce the forces in Kharkov with both men and armored vehicles, and redeploy reserves to both Kupiansk and Izium.
“Helicopters are landing at the landing site along the line of contact. Reinforcements will help prevent further advances of the Kyiv regime,” Podubny said.
In a later report, he said that Kupiansk had come under shelling from Ukrainian forces and that the city’s bridges over the Oskir River had been severely damaged.
“Our reserves are arriving at the front line,” Podubny said. “The defense of Kupyansk continues”
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday that his forces had “liberated and controlled more than 30 settlements in the Kharkiv region.”
“Measures are underway to check and secure the territory of several villages in the region, and we are gradually taking control of new settlements. We are protecting all our people in places,” Zelensky said in his daily speech.
scene of destruction
The advancing Ukrainian army reports scenes of destruction as it retakes the region from Russian rule.
Olev Sinievbov, head of the military administration of the Kharkov region, said he had inspected the recently liberated area, where the Russians had “destroyed infrastructure and houses, many trophies and heaps of garbage”, and posted photos of the scene. Posted on Telegram.
“Without exaggeration, people met our soldiers with tears in their eyes,” Syniehubov said.
“Of course, residents need help. Most villages do not have electricity or gas.In the near future, we will rehabilitate them and bring in humanitarian aid.”
He said the mayor of one liberated village had been detained on suspicion of collaborating with the occupying Russian forces, and warned other collaborators that “traitors do not escape responsibility.”
Ukraine says some Russian troops are now deserting because it has suffered “grave losses”.
The Chief of the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said on Friday that at least 15 people had deserted.
The soldiers had shed their uniforms and put on plain clothes in an attempt to blend in while trying to return to Russian territory, it said.
Video and satellite imagery location-located by CNN show that these advances include continued attacks on command posts, ammunition depots and fuel stockpiles far behind the front line.
A senior US official said Ukrainian forces had had some success in attacking Russian supply lines with the intention of cutting off and isolating Russian forces west of the Dnipro River.