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After a night of heavy fighting, Ukrainian officials say they still control Kharkiv

A civil defense man stands guard at a checkpoint in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, as Russian troops continued their advance.
Emilio Morenatti
A civil defense man stands guard at a checkpoint in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, as Russian troops continued their advance.

Updated February 27, 2022 at 12:48 PM ET

Officials in Ukraine say that Kharkiv, the nation's second-largest city, is under the control of Ukraine's military after an overnight offensive by Russian forces.

Local officials had urged civilians to shelter at home early Sunday amid reports of combat in the streets and "intensive exchanges of rocket artillery," as the U.K. Ministry of Defense reported.

But by the afternoon, the streets were calmer, according to news reports and social media – and the same officials had claimed victory for now.

"Control over Kharkiv is completely ours! The armed forces, the police, and the defense forces are working, and the city is being completely cleansed of the enemy," regional governor Oleh Sinegubov wrote on Telegram, according to Reuters.

Russian forces struck a gas pipeline in Kharkiv, according to the office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Officials warned residents to cover windows with damp cloth to protect themselves from smoke.

About 1.4 million people live in Kharkiv, which sits less than 30 miles from the Russian border. The city was one of the first targets of shelling Thursday morning. For days, residents have crowded in subway stations and bunkers at the sound of the city's air raid sirens.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Becky Sullivan has reported and produced for NPR since 2011 with a focus on hard news and breaking stories. She has been on the ground to cover natural disasters, disease outbreaks, elections and protests, delivering stories to both broadcast and digital platforms.