Russian troops have entered Kharkiv in Ukraine’s northeast, an adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister and other officials have said. It is the country’s second-largest city.
In a statement on his official Telegram account, Anton Gerashchenko said there was fighting in the center of the city and in the area of the Hydropark.
“A group of special forces of the Russian Federation has just burst into the city through Alekseevka. On the street,” Gerashchenko said.
Russians have entered Kharkiv. Street battles audible pic.twitter.com/JX1eZfCe9h
— Roland Oliphant (@RolandOliphant) February 27, 2022
Oleg Sinegubov, the chairman of the Kharkiv regional state administration, announced “there has been a breakthrough in light equipment including in the central part of the city”, according to the Kyiv Independent. He urged local residents to remain in shelters.
Olga Tokariuk, a freelance correspondent in Kyiv, posted a video of a burning tank in a location purported to be Kharkiv to her Twitter this morning.
-1 Russian tank in Kharkiv https://t.co/gGUnPOusdY
— Olga Tokariuk (@olgatokariuk) February 27, 2022
Associated Press reports that Russian troops approached Kharkiv, about 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) south of the border with Russia, shortly after Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine on Thursday.
But until Sunday, they remained on the outskirts of the city of 1.4 million without trying to enter while other forces rolled past, pressing their offensive deeper into Ukraine.
Kharkiv is a historic city and a cultural and industrial hub of Ukraine
Kharkiv was founded in 1654 as Kharkiv fortress, and after these humble beginnings, it grew to be a major center of industry, trade and Ukrainian culture in the Russian Empire.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the city was predominantly Russian in population, but after the Soviet government’s policy of Ukrainization the city became populated mainly by Ukrainians with a significant number of Russians.
It was the first capital of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, from December 1919 to January 1934, after which the capital relocated to Kyiv.
Presently, Kharkiv is a major cultural, scientific, educational, transport and industrial center of Ukraine, with numerous museums, theatres and libraries, including the Annunciation and Dormition Cathedrals, the Derzhprom building in Freedom Square, and the National University of Kharkiv.