Russia Presses Operation into Ukraine but Holds Off Main City

Sat May 18 2024
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KYIV: Russian troops pressed ahead Friday with an operation into northeast Ukraine but Russian President Vladimir Putin said there were no current plans to occupy the main city of Kharkiv. On a visit to China, President Putin said the latest strike was direct retaliation for Ukraine’s shelling of Russia’s border regions and his nation was trying to create a “security zone”.

Over two years into Russia’s attack, Putin said there was no intention, at this phase, to take Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city, around 30 km from the border.

Russian forces have launched the surprise operation into Ukraine’s northeast on May 10, sending thousands of forces across the border and unleashing artillery fire on several areas.  Both sides said Russian forces were still advancing, but Kyiv warned heavy fighting lay ahead.

In a statement, Russia’s ministry of defence said that its army had “liberated 12 settlements in the Kharkiv region over the past week… and also continues to advance deep into enemy defences.”

The Ukrainian governor of the Kharkiv region, Oleg Synegubov, stated that Russian forces were trying to surround Vovchansk, an almost deserted town near the border which had a pre-war population of about 18,000.

He stated that Ukrainian forces were resisting, but warned Moscow was gaining ground near Lukyantsi, a village around 20 kilometres northeast of Kharkiv city. Ukraine pulled its forces back from that region this week amid heavy fire and has also rushed in reinforcements.

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