Ukraine retakes territory in Kharkiv, Moscow admits

STORY: It what could mark a major turning point in the war, Ukrainian forces have broken through a portion of the Russian frontline near Kharkiv – something even Moscow, which had been silent for hours after the surprise move, publicly admitted on Friday.

Appearing on Russian state TV, Vitaly Ganchev, head of the Moscow-installed administration in the region, acknowledged Ukraine’s success near Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city.

“The very fact that they broke through our defense line is, of course, a significant victory for them. This is what they wanted to achieve.”

He later added that Ukraine’s advance was rapid and that several settlements were already under Ukrainian control.

Kharkiv’s mayor then said that at least 14 people were wounded on Friday when a children's arts center and a school, as well as private homes, were hit by Russian rocket fire in what Ukrainian officials said were revenge for their country’s success on the battlefield.

The Russian defense ministry released video of military vehicles speeding along a highway, saying they showed reinforcements rushing to defend the area. The Kremlin declined to comment on the Ukrainian advance.

Images posted to social media also appeared to show troops holding up a Ukrainian flag in the Kherson region in the south.

Ukraine kept independent journalists out of the area and Reuters could not confirm the images, but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said troops had "liberated dozens of settlements" and reclaimed more than 1,000 square kilometers in the eastern Kharkiv and southern Kherson regions.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Friday acknowledged Ukraine’s advances in those areas.

"We see success in Kherson now, we see some success in Kharkiv and so that is very, very encouraging."

Western military analysts say the advance could shut the supply lines Moscow has relied on to sustain its force in eastern Ukraine, and potentially leave thousands of Russian troops encircled.