Ukraine gain control in Kharkiv border areas: Zelenskiy

SAMYA KULLAB and ELISE MORTON |

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy surveying bomb damage in Kharkiv, which is being targeted by missiles
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy surveying bomb damage in Kharkiv, which is being targeted by missiles

Ukrainian forces have secured “combat control” of areas where Russian troops entered the northeastern Kharkiv region earlier this month, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said. 

The claim came as two people were killed and 36 wounded in aerial attacks on the city of Kharkiv, according to local officials.

Also on Saturday Ukrainian attacks  killed three residents in southern Russia’s Belgorod region, regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said. He added 10 people were injured. 

Kharkiv is about 20 km from the Russian border. Moscow’s troops have in recent weeks captured villages in the area as part of a broad push, and analysts say they may be trying to get within artillery range of the city. Ukrainian authorities have evacuated more than 11,000 people from the region since the start of the offensive on May 10.

“Our soldiers have now managed to take combat control of the border area where the Russian occupiers entered,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address on Friday evening.

Zelenskyy’s comments appear to be at odds with those made by Russian officials.

Viktor Vodolatskiy, a member of Russia’s lower house of parliament, said Russian forces now controlled more than half of the town of Vovchansk, three miles inside the border, Russian state news agency Tass reported Friday.

Vovchansk has been a flashpoint for fighting since Russia launched the recent offensive. 

Independent confirmation of the claims wasn’t immediately possible. 

Russia’s Kharkiv push appears to be a coordinated new offensive that includes testing Ukrainian defences in the Donetsk region further south — where Russia’s Defence Ministry said on Saturday that its forces had taken over the village of Arkhanhelske — while also launching incursions in the northern Sumy and Chernihiv regions. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the Kremlin’s army is attempting to create a “buffer zone” to prevent Ukrainian cross-border attacks.

In addition to the ground offensive operation along Ukraine’s north-eastern border, Russia is continuing to bombard the Kharkiv region with missiles, guided aerial bombs and drones. 

Regional govenor Oleh Syniehubov said two people were killed and 24 others wounded when an aerial bomb hit a large construction supplies store in the city of Kharkiv on Saturday afternoon, causing a huge fire to break out. He said that more than 200 people could have been inside the store. 

“The attack targeted the shopping centre, where there were many people – this is clearly terrorism,” Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said. 

Another strike on a residential area of central Kharkiv on Saturday injured 12 people and damaged shops and a cafe,  Syniehubov said later on Telegram.

A strike on a book printing plan in Kharkiv on Thursday killed seven civilians.

with Reuters

AP