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Russia sends reinforcements toward Kharkiv: Reports

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Russia is redeploying troops to the Kharkiv region in eastern Ukraine, where Kyiv’s army has been conducting a large-scale counter-offensive to take back territory captured by Moscow, Russian news agencies reported Friday.

The TASS and RIA Novosti news agencies shared video from Russia’s defense ministry, showing the movement of military hardware on a paved road, some with Russian flags and bearing the letter “Z”, a symbol of Russia’s military campaign.

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Local Moscow-installed official Vitaliy Ganchev said in televised remarks that “fierce battles” were under way near Balakliya, a town in Kharkiv region that Ukraine said it had recaptured on Thursday.

“We do not control Balakliya. Attempts are being made to dislodge the Ukrainian forces, but there are fierce battles and our troops are being held back on the approaches,” Ganchev said.

He added that Ukrainian forces were also attempting “to break through the defense” near the town of Shevchenkove, some 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of Balakliya.

“Now Russian reserves have been brought there, our troops are fighting back,” Ganchev said.

Kyiv’s army has claimed gains in the counter-offensive in southern and eastern Ukraine, saying they have advanced “deep” into Russian lines.

The Ukrainian military said Thursday it had recaptured more than 20 towns and villages in the northeastern Kharkiv region.

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