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Latest in Ukraine: Russian forces retreat from Kharkiv, awaiting reinforcements for offensive in Izium Updated: 2022-05-17 10:26:47 KST

A small group of Ukrainian soldiers are standing near a blue and yellow boundary marker, making various celebratory hand gestures as they reached the Ukrainian-Russian border following a successful counter offensive against Russian forces in the Kharkiv region.
Such success was able to liberate villages on the outskirts of the city.

"After a decisive artillery attack the Russians left really quickly, they did not have time to loot much. We saw what we think were their headquarters' TV sets and other stuff. A lot of positions were abandoned, flak jackets and helmets laying around."

According to the Kharkiv Oblast State Administration, success in the Kharkiv region led to around two-thousand civilians to return every day.
Two gas distribution stations are also back in operation, supplying gas to more than three-thousand people.

Though there's been no shelling in the north of Ukraine, attacks on the eastern front are intensifying with the heaviest combat taking place in Luhansk and Donetsk.
According to the head of the Luhansk regional military administration, the Russians are gathering equipment and manpower closer to the industrial town, Severodonetsk.
The city's chemical plant and 11 high-rise buildings have already been hit.
The Ukrainian General Staff said on Monday that Russia has focused its main efforts on Donetsk, and is preparing an offensive concentrated in the area of Izium.
Constant bombardment in the southern port city of Mariupol the last bastion of hundreds of Ukrainian defenders continues too, and negotiation to save them doesn't seem to have made much progress.

''We are continuing very difficult and delicate negotiations in order to save our people from Mariupol, from Azovstal. We do this every day. And the main thing is that the agreements were fulfilled."

Though almost completely controlled by Russian forces, Zelenskyy showed strong will to regain the territory by saying Ukraine will "one day" host the Eurovision Song Contest in Mariupol.
That comes after a symbolic win for folk-rap group Kalush Orchestra, whose leader returned to Ukraine where he runs a volunteering organization and said a big celebration will take place after the war.

Meanwhile, U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said on Sunday that the Senate would on Wednesday vote to pass the largest aid package to Ukraine, worth about 40 billion dollars.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister met the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Berlin on Sunday local time.
Blinken reportedly underscored the country's enduring commitment to supporting Ukraine while promising to seek a solution to export Ukraine’s grain to international markets.
Kim Bo-kyoung, Arirang news.
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