As Russia faces apparent setbacks around Kharkiv, Ukraine’s forces entrench in eastern cities and brace for battle – CBS News

Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine — Ukrainian officials say Russia’s invading forces have been suffering setbacks around the northeast city of Kharkiv. Video appears to show burnt-out Russian vehicles in the area, backing up President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s claim that his forces have managed to push Russian troops back from Ukraine‘s second-largest city.

Drone video appears to show a Russian tank destroyed near Kharkiv. CBS News senior foreign correspondent Charlie D’Agata says Ukrainian soldiers who drove Russian forces out of areas northeast of the city found rows of bullet-riddled cars, scattered clothes, a baby’s car seat and a stroller among other possible evidence of civilians being killed even as they tried to flee.

The Ukrainian military — and Ukrainian civilians — have little defense against Russia’s overwhelming firepower. As D’Agata reports, the Russians have made gains elsewhere in eastern Ukraine, where their brutal assault has been focused.

Nadiya, who lives in the front-line town of Bakhmut, in the Donetsk region, said that when she and her husband found out where a recent airstrike had hit, they rushed to the neighborhood as fast as they could. They quickly found the bodies of their relatives.

Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine - vector map
A map shows the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. Getty/iStockphoto

“They were kind, very good people,” she said.
  
The Russian offensive in Donetsk and neighboring Luhansk, which together form Ukraine’s industrial Donbas region, has been relentless. Vladimir Putin’s forces have flattened small towns in their march toward the strategic cities of Kramatorsk and Slovyansk.

But if and when they reach those cities, D’Agata says they will hit a major hurdle.

Across a vast section of eastern Ukraine, the fight has become a bloody battle of trench warfare, and the country’s defenders have dug in deep.

Russia targets Ukrainian towns on front lines 02:24

D’Agata and his team found heavily-fortified cities protected by well-armed troops in seemingly endless bunkers, with concrete blocks and anti-tank defenses ringing the outskirts.

Right in the center of Slovyansk, about 100 miles southeast of Kharkiv, D’Agata found Ukrainian troops ready and waiting for any Russian forces in vast network of trenches.

The soldiers told CBS News that any Russian invaders would face guerrilla warfare at every turn.

D’Agata asked Volodymyr Kutnenko, a medic who’s been battling Russian separatists in the region since Putin last invaded in 2014, if he had treated any wounded Russian soldiers?

“Yes, yes,” he said. “We provide them with the full range of medical support, exchange them for our prisoners of war. But our prisoners of war are returned in a terrible medical condition.”

As the ground war inches ever closer to the city, the soldiers told CBS News they know the most difficult days lie ahead.

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