Videos uploaded to social media give a rare view of clashes between Russian and Ukrainian military forces on the streets of Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine.
Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, has been the target of frequent Russian military strikes since the invasion began early Thursday morning. It is now the site of intense street battles as the Russian army attempts to take control of the city.
A sequence of videos uploaded to social media shows an attempt by a Russian unit to advance towards a major airfield and an arms factory northeast of Kharkiv. The Kharkiv State Aircraft Manufacturing Company airfield is small – only one runway – but could be a useful beachhead for the Russians.
CNN geotagged and verified the authenticity of the videos.
The first video, taken by a resident, shows a convoy of Russian troops surrounding military vehicles, crawling along a causeway that ends near the airfield.
“There are two [military vehicles] from what I can see,” someone says in the video. “A third is crawling with infantrymen wielding automatic rifles.”
Suddenly gunshots are heard and seen.
A Russian soldier is seen quickly kneeling down and firing a shoulder rocket towards the area where the gunfire appears to be coming from.
A second video, taken after the exchange of fire, shows the military vehicles reversing in apparent retreat. The Russian troops are grouped behind their vehicles.
A Reuters reporter attended the scene after the firefight and filmed video showing one of the abandoned Russian military convoy vehicles and a significant amount of blood staining the snow on the ground. The Reuters reporter spoke to a resident, identified as Yevgeniy, who told them that at least one Russian soldier had been killed.
“After we kill this one, the others run away,” Yevgeniy told Reuters, pointing to a bloody stain in the snow. “They were about 12-15 people. That’s all… They won’t take Kharkiv. They went back to where they came from. They don’t have good navigation, you see. Nothing works for them. They came and were hiding behind houses,” Yevgeniy said.
Their efforts to retreat appear to have been halted by another attack. A convoy of vehicles — of the same type — is seen on fire in another video.
“And that’s how we meet the fucking Russian army,” someone is heard shouting in the video. “That’s how it’s going to be for each of them who comes to our land from Kharkiv.”
It is not possible to be absolutely sure that the burning Russian trucks are the same ones trying to reach the airport, but they are in the same location, are of the same type and have the same markings.
Another video taken at the site of the abandoned military convoy – the vehicles are no longer on fire – shows Ukrainian troops engaging.
“Give them everything,” a voice shouts repeatedly in the video.
In the middle of the firefight, a Ukrainian soldier emerges from the wall and is seen firing a shoulder-fired rocket.
Later, another video shows Ukrainian troops around the convoy, appearing to search through abandoned vehicles. Sporadic gunfire is heard and some Ukrainian forces move along a wall in the background.
“Slava Ukraini”, someone says in the video – “Glory to Ukraine”.
“That’s how we meet the Russian world,” another person said. “The same will be true for all those who come to trample on our Kharkiv lands! There you go with your Russian-Russian letters “Z!” Everyone will get the same.”