Kharkiv metro to reopen as Donbas battle intensifies

STORY: Exactly three months after Russia invaded Ukraine, Kharkiv’s metro system is expected to rumble back to life on Tuesday (May 24).

Thousands of residents in Ukraine’s second-largest city had sought shelter on the underground network during months of relentless bombardment, sleeping on station platforms or inside train carriages.

Among them, Nataliia Lopanska.

She says she has been living in a train carriage with her son since March 3rd.

But now the city’s mayor has asked residents sheltering in carriages to return home, or to move onto the station platforms so the trains can start running once again.

Nataliia says it still isn’t safe to leave.

“Everyone is crazy scared, because there is still shelling, the rocket attacks haven’t been called off. Everyone is afraid."

"Well, look over there, smoke is rising somewhere over the ‘KhTZ’ district. There is shelling."

The metro’s reopening is a symbol of Ukraine's biggest military success over the past few weeks: pushing Russian forces largely out of artillery range of Kharkiv, as they did from the capital Kyiv in March.

Russia has now re-focused its efforts further east - its forces are launching an all-out assault to encircle Ukrainian troops in the twin cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, with Russian forces advancing from three directions to encircle them.

Heavy shelling is reportedly underway throughout the region. Reuters journalists in the Donbas, who reached Bakhmut further west, heard and saw intense shelling on the highway towards Lysychansk.

Russia is now in control of an unbroken swathe of eastern and southern Ukraine, but has yet to achieve its objective of seizing all of Luhansk and Donetsk.

Its defence ministry said on Tuesday that its forces had struck an arms depot in the Donbas region, used to store shells for U.S.-produced howitzers, a type of artillery weapon.

Reuters was unable to independently verify the report.

It also released a video on Tuesday of a checkpoint set up by Russian forces near Izyum, located in the Kharkiv region.

However, it was not clear when the video was filmed.