How the Ukrainian village of Tsyrkuny Survived Russian Occupation

Within minutes of Russian troops crossing the border into Ukraine at the start of the full-scale invasion on February 24, 2022, they were in the small village of Tsyrkuny. Russian soldiers, tanks and other military vehicles poured into the village that sits about 15 miles south of the Russian border and 10 miles north of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. The Russians had to take Tsyrkuny by force on their way to their key military objective of Kharkiv.

When they reached Kharkiv the Russians encountered ferocious local resistance on the streets that lasted for serval months, and they ultimately failed to conquer the city.

Some of the fiercest fighting of the war during the last year happened in and around Kharkiv. International human rights groups reported Russian forces’ use of internationally-banned cluster munitions in residential areas, and Ukrainian authorities say that over 600 civilians were killed during the attacks.

The 2022 battle for Kharkiv proved militarily and psychologically momentous as Ukraine’s forces managed to hold off and eventually defeated some of Russia’s most elite fighting units. Some military analysts called it Ukraine’s Battle of Saratoga, comparing it to America’s spectacular defeat of British forces in 1777.

But while the fight for Kharkiv was raging, Tsyrkuny was occupied by Russian soldiers for over two months until early May, when they were driven out by Ukrainian forces.

Before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the village was known as a largely prosperous village on the commuter belt around Kharkiv, with four meat processing plants and a couple of academically impressive schools.  Today, it is still shelled by Russian forces, the village’s recovery waiting for a cessation of hostilities.



  • Brian Dooley

Published on May 24, 2023


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