Russia’s Defense Ministry said Saturday that it is pulling back forces from two areas in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region where a Ukrainian counter offensive has made significant advances in the past week.
Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said the troops would be regrouped from the Balakliya and Izyum areas to the Donetsk region. Izyum was a major base for Russian forces in the Kharkiv region.
Konashenkov said the move is being made “in order to achieve the stated goals of the special military operation to liberate Donbas,’” one of the eastern Ukraine regions that Russia has declared sovereign.
The claim of pullback to concentrate on Donetsk is similiar to the justification Russia gave for pulling back its forces from the Kyiv region earlier this year.