Ukrainian soldiers on the front lines repel Russian forces using U.S. heavy weapons

Russia bombed several key Ukrainian cities Thursday including Kharkiv. The country's second largest city has been under fire since the first day of the invasion, with its proximity to the border making it an easy target for Russia. But newly delivered Western weapons are helping Ukraine slow down the Russian advance. Special correspondent Volodymyr Solohub and videographer Bohdan Kinaschuk report.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    And now to the war that is causing some of this food crisis.

    Russia bombed several key Ukrainian cities today, including Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city. It has been under fire since the first day of the invasion, and its proximity to the border makes it an easy target for Russian artillery.

    But newly delivered Western weapons are helping Ukraine slow down the Russian advance.

    Special correspondent Volodymyr Solohub and videographer Bohdan Kinaschuk look at life on the front lines.

  • Volodymyr Solohub:

    Kharkiv has been under constant shelling for more than five months now. Hundreds of thousands of its residents have fled the city.

    You can feel the war here on every corner. Just a 10-minute drive from the city limit, and you're in the middle of the war zone. We go there with members of Khartiya volunteer battalion.

  • Ihor, Member, Kharkiv Battalion:

    This volunteer battalion has been created since March. And the idea was to protect our city for people who are volunteers. Mostly, all of us, we are from Kharkiv and we are protecting our own city.

  • Volodymyr Solohub:

    You can hear the war the moment you leave the city. Soldiers take us to their reconnaissance headquarters. These volunteers are working in close coordination with the regular army units to gather and share intelligence on the Russian movements near Kharkiv.

    Rubens is a platoon commander.

  • Rubens, Platoon Commander, Khartiya Battalion (through translator):

    All of us here, we are not paid by the government. We are all volunteers. And all of us are willing to die defending the city of Kharkiv.

  • Volodymyr Solohub:

    This platoon commander reminds us about his team's main motivation. But there's another source of motivation, these pictures of Russian brigade commanders, this one killed.

    When talking about Russians and their treatment of Ukrainian prisoners of war, Rubens becomes dark. The only thing that brings a smile to his face is one thought.

  • Rubens (through translator):

    Until the victory. I think it won't take too long. Until we have victory, no one leaves.

  • Volodymyr Solohub:

    Another team trying to bring that victory one step closer, on the outskirts of Kharkiv, is this artillery brigade. The Russians are about 10 miles away.

    Dmytro joined the army and this brigade in early 2021. He fights to evict Russians who've seized territory, including his hometown.

  • Dmytro, Ukrainian Soldier (through translator):

    I'm from Kherson.

    My home is now under occupation. There are guys fighting on that front trying to liberate my home. I'm doing exactly the same on this front, fighting for someone else's home.

  • Volodymyr Solohub:

    And they fight with American weapons. Three months ago, they received these U.S. howitzers. They're more accurate, their range is about 20 miles, and they're faster-loading.

  • Dmytro (through translator):

    This is a great support from our friends, and it helps us to keep the enemy away in this area, to hit the targets precisely and on time, and provide support to our infantry.

  • Volodymyr Solohub:

    Dmytro was among the Ukrainian soldiers that went to Germany to train to operate these weapons. Americans get months of training. These Ukrainians got just one week.

    The Ukrainian military says these American M777 howitzers are lighter, easier to operate, but, most importantly, more precise. Afterward, they camouflage the howitzers to avoid Russian drones. But they know they will have to fire again soon. The fighting in this war never seems to stop.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Volodymyr Solohub in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

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