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After a vicious battle for Kharkiv: debris, a stuck rocket and artillery boom.

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After a vicious battle for Kharkiv: debris, a stuck rocket and artillery boom.

KHARKIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s military was fighting a fierce battle to push back Russian forces from Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, on Friday, a day after a vicious battle that burned down a highway leading to the city. At least one body with and on the carrier.

In the shadow of giant blue and yellow letters spelling Kharkiv, army carriers were stopped at the entrance to the city. Nearby, the body of a Russian soldier, dressed in a green uniform, lay by the side of the road, wrapped in a light layer of snow that had fallen overnight.

Troops sent to capture the position had few details of the fighting, saying only that it happened on Thursday morning, with Russian President Vladimir V. Soon after Putin ordered the attack.

“Putin wants us to throw down our weapons,” said a Ukrainian soldier named Andrei, stationed in the ditch, hurriedly dug into the black soil by the side of the road. “I think we can act smarter, assemble our army and launch a counterattack.”

Far in the distance but close enough to be felt, artillery shells were booming. The Russian army, which pushed to the border on Thursday from its staging area near Belgorod, about 40 miles from Kharkiv, has turned mighty north of the city. It was unclear where else they would proceed.

Most of the fighting was taking place near a village called Tsarkuni, a few miles outside the city limits. Military and civilian casualties as a result of the fighting were unclear, but on Friday local police said a 14-year-old boy He was killed in a village near Kharkiv when a bullet was fired near his house. But the attacks sometimes get close enough to the city, triggering panic screams from pedestrians, forcing them to hide in subway stations.

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While Russian officials have said their forces were attempting to escape from civilian areas, the body of a Smerch rocket, fired by Russian forces by Ukrainian authorities, stuck vertically in the middle of the road outside the National Guard headquarters. went. A few kilometers away, the tail section of the rocket was buried in the asphalt in front of the onion-domed Orthodox Church.

A team of emergency services officers wearing jackets and helmets were trying to get the tail off the sidewalk, but were having trouble. A team member stated that the tail and body were separate stages of the rocket, possibly as an explosive ordinance that was hurled toward its target near the front lines.

“That’s 200kg of metal,” said the emergency officer, pointing to the rocket’s story. “It could fall off a building or hit people.”

Even though the barrage of artillery intensified, not everyone was ready to hide. Roman Balkaliev was wearing camouflage, with a double-barreled shotgun hanging over his shoulder as he marched towards the source of the artillery boom on the outskirts of Kharkiv.

“I live here, this is my house. I’m going to defend it,” said Mr. Balakaliev, who also took out a large knife, which he had tied to his back as if to show it. “I don’t think Russians understand me like I understand them.”

After a while, Mr. Balakaliev reached the edge of the city, where Ukrainian troops were surrounded by abandoned Russian military transports. They watched as he passed by. No one stepped forward to stop him. One soldier said: “Victory intent.”

Mr. Balakaliev, with his eyes fixed and his gun ready, took to the road in the direction of the boom and saw a tall billboard that read: “Protect the Future: Ukraine-NATO-Europe.”

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