Ukrainian forces are advancing to the east of Ukraine's second-largest city Kharkiv, with recent social media footage geo-located by CNN showing soldiers in the town of Volokhiv-Yar, which was occupied by Russian forces until recently.
Important: If Ukrainian forces are able to consolidate their presence in Volokhiv-Yar, they could encircle Russian troops in the neighboring town of Balakliya.
CNN has geolocated videos showing Ukrainian forces on the outskirts of Balakliya. There are indications fighting is ongoing in the area.
Reports from both sides suggest Balakliya is being defended by militiamen from the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic and soldiers from the Russian National Guard, who may now be facing a precarious situation.
CNN cannot independently verify their reports and neither Moscow nor Kyiv have commented on the Ukrainian offensive in the region.
On Tuesday, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said Ukrainian forces were closing in on Balakliya, likely driving Russian forces to the left bank of the Severskyi Donets and Serednya Balakliika rivers.
Videos showed Ukrainian soldiers in Verbivka, next to Balakliya.
“Multiple Russian sources acknowledged Ukrainian gains in Verbivka and reported that Russian forces demolished unspecified bridges in Balakliya‘s eastern environs to prevent further Ukrainian advances,” the ISW said in its daily report on the war in Ukraine.
“The September 6 Ukrainian counterattack in Kharkiv was likely an opportunistic effort enabled by the redeployment of Russian forces away from the area to reinforce Russian positions against the Ukrainian counteroffensive in Kherson Oblast,” the ISW added.