Ukrainian troops counterattacking in the northern Kharkiv sector recovered lost ground and captured Russian prisoners of war, but bitter fighting in the town of Vovchansk was still in progress, official and open-source reports said on Wednesday.

Both the Ukrainian DeepState battle tracking platform and the US-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) confirmed that Ukrainian forces had recaptured buildings and advanced in the battleground town less than five kilometers from the Russian border. An ISW May 22 report called the situation in the town “dynamic.”

There was close-in combat and firefights along the length of the Vovcha River that cuts through the town east and west, and terrain gains and losses were measured in dozens of meters, those independent reports said.


Russian attacks were continuing with local commanders sending small infantry teams forward to attack terrain on the front line, and launching glider bomb and artillery strikes at military and civilian targets in the Ukrainians’ rear area.

Russian air strikes injured 13 civilians, among them a child, in attacks hitting the nearby major city Kharkiv – Ukraine’s second largest – on Wednesday morning, a statement from Ukraine’s Ministry of Emergency Situations said.

Russia, in early May, committed a reported 20,000-plus men to open a new active fighting front against Ukraine in the Kharkiv sector, according to Russian leader Vladimir Putin, to slice out territory at least 40 kilometers deep into Ukraine to prevent Kyiv’s forces from shooting at targets across the border inside the Russian Federation.

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A US-manufactured Stryker armored personnel carrier operated by Ukraine’s veteran 82nd Air Assault Brigade lights up a target in close-range combat in the Kharkiv region town Vovchansk. Figures of people, possibly Russian infantry, had been visible seconds before the Stryker gunner opened up with a .50 caliber heavy machine gun. The undated unit-released video was made public on May 22. Kyiv Post screen grab.


The Kremlin assaults in early May grabbed two swaths of land, each some 10 kilometers wide and 5 kilometers deep, capturing 8 villages. Further attacks have stalled against Ukrainian defenses built on reserve units quickly deployed to the sector, massed FPV drone strikes, and – as had been effectively absent from Kyiv’s arsenal since January – long-awaited deliveries of useful quantities of NATO-standard howitzer shells.

Ukrainian forces since Monday have launched local counterattacks in and around Vovchansk, retaking about half the town and capturing dozens of prisoners. Sources agreed the veteran 82nd Air Assault Brigade was leading the assaults, backed by special forces units from the army and border troops command. In a May 22 national video address, President Volodymyr Zelensky said the crack brigade had become the keystone of defenses in the Kharkiv sector.

Video published by the 82nd on its own news feeds on Monday and Tuesday showed US-manufactured Stryker armored personnel carriers moving through Vovchansk’s streets at careful speed and using hit-and-run tactics to blast possible targets with heavy machine gun fire.


A report by Ukraine’s independent ICTV television channel said the brigade “recently” destroyed two companies of Russian troops – a force normally numbering between 200 and 300 men – in fighting in the town.

A formation raised in Ukraine’s far-western, multiethnic Chernivtsi region, the 82nd Brigade is considered one of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU’s) most powerful fighting formations because of a successful fighting record dating to the first days of the war.

Infantrymen from Ukraine’s 82nd Air Assault Brigade stand and sit on a US-manufactured Stryker armored personnel carrier. Undated image published The brigade, one of the Ukrainian army’s most combat-capable, was recently committed to combat in the town Vovchansk, Kharkiv sector. According to early reports they took ground and prisoners from Russian forces attacking there.


It is heavily armed with some of the most powerful fighting vehicles Ukraine’s Western allies have sent to the AFU, including British Challenger 2 tanks and US-made Stryker armored personnel carriers.

The Kremlin advance has been stopped and urban warfare teams from the 82nd are moving to clear the town of Russian infantry, the TV report said, in interviews with unit soldiers. A soldier identified as Ivan told ICTV: “We have succeeded in throwing them (Russian forces) back a bit.”

Ukraine-run chat groups and information platforms tracking Russian service personnel dead and captured have seen an uptick in reports of soldiers captured in the Kharkiv region since mid-May, with most of the alleged new POWs becoming Ukrainian captives in Vovchansk.

Kyiv Post graphic of alleged Russian prisoners of war captured by Ukrainian troops in combat in the Kharkiv-Vovchansk sector since May 15th. Most of the images were made public by a Ukrainian OSINT information platform Dozhdus’ Tebya publishing data about Russian soldiers lost in Ukraine. The images are not confirmed, but video accounts by men pictured on combat conditions were consistent with reports by independent media and Ukrainian government officials.


A survey of one of the oldest and most-read tracking groups, called I Will Wait for You (or its Russian-language version Дождусь тебя) since May 15 has seen a near-tripling of reported captures of Russian troops by Ukrainian forces.

A Kyiv Post review of the OSINT data showed that close to two-thirds of captures reported from May 15 to 23 came from battles in the Kharkiv sector, almost all in Vovchansk.

Individuals purportedly captured numbered at least 28 men. Most, but not all, soldiers were identified by name, rank, unit, and service number. It was not possible to determine how many Russians – if any – had been captured by the 82nd Brigade, which is one of at least four major Ukrainian formations known to be fighting in the Kharkiv sector.

Units of assignment of the captured Russian soldiers, when stated, were consistent with combat formations known to be fielded by Moscow in the Kharkiv attacks, among them 9th Motor Rifle Regiment, 11th Tank Regiment, 128th Motor Rifle Regiment, 144th Motor Rifle Division, 228th Guards Motor Rifle Regiment, and 237th Tank Regiment. Losses seemed to be heaviest in the tank regiments, Kyiv Post researchers found.


Both the Ukrainian DeepState battle tracking platform and the US-based Institute for the Study of War confirmed Ukrainian forces had recaptured buildings and advanced north in the battleground town Vovchansk. Combat reports from Ukrainian units stating they are involved in the fighting said battles were still in progress.

One Russian soldier was identified as Moscow resident Sergei Mamaev, a rifleman in the 9th Motor Rifle Regiment. According to his account, he was ordered to advance towards the Kharkiv region village Lyptsi and dig in, but he and his unit came under artillery and mortar fire aimed at the armored vehicles they were riding in. Ukrainian FPV drones came next and hunted down individual soldiers trying to hide. Ukrainian infantry mopped up the battlefield the next day and took survivors prisoner, he said.

Mamayev and other soldiers in videos stated they were frustrated with the Russian national leadership’s strategy of throwing poorly trained troops into the teeth of prepared Russian defenses, that unit casualties commonly exceed 50 percent in a single attack, and that survivors if captured receive good treatment from Ukrainian forces.

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