Russian Defense Ministry says forces pulling back from area near Kharkiv

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The Russian Defense Ministry announced on Saturday that it had removed forces from around several areas near the city of Kharkiv, according to state-run media agency TASS.

In a bulleted statement posted to Telegram, TASS reported that the Russian Defense Ministry made a number of statements regarding the war in Ukraine on Saturday.

Chiefly, the ministry said that troops had been removed from the Balakleya and Izyum regions to “step up efforts in the Donetsk” region, according to the translated message.

“The Izyum-Balakleyskaya grouping of Russian troops was rolled up in three days and transferred to the territory of the DPR,” the statement from TASS read.

Russian forces left to focus on achieving “the stated goals of the special military operation to liberate Donbass,” the defense ministry said.

The announcement came after Ukrainian officials said its forces had made major advances in the region in the past week.  

Ukraine’s security service and foreign ministry both said on Saturday that Ukrainian troops had retaken the town of Kupiansk, north of Izyum. Videos circulating on social media and reports from the British Defense Ministry also suggested that Ukrainian forces were advancing on Izyum.

In the nearly seven months since Russia first invaded Ukraine, it has been forced to reevaluate its aims for the war.

After failing to take the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, Russian forces refocused their efforts on eastern Ukraine, where most of the fighting has occurred in recent months.  

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