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“Fierce fighting along the entire front”

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry reports that the Russian attackers have been pushed back. Yesterday Russia launched an offensive on Kharkiv. President Zelensky announced a strong response.

According to Ukrainian sources, the Russian army has launched a massive ground offensive in the Kharkiv region. The Defense Ministry said Russian forces tried to use armored vehicles to break through Ukrainian defense lines.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced a strong response from his country and at the same time asked Western allies for “timely” military assistance.

Conflict parties as a source

In the current situation, information on the course of the war, shelling and casualties provided by official bodies of the Russian and Ukrainian parties to the conflict cannot be directly verified by an independent body.

So far no information from Moscow

According to a high-ranking Ukrainian military official, Russian troops advanced around one kilometer into Ukrainian territory. The Russian Defense Ministry initially did not provide any information. If the Russian advance is confirmed, it would be Moscow's largest offensive in the northeastern Ukrainian region of Kharkiv since Russia's invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022.

The Defense Ministry in Kiev said the attacks had been “repelled” but that “fighting of varying intensity” was still taking place. Several reserve units were moved to the affected area to strengthen the defense.

Map of Ukraine, hatched: territories occupied by Russia

Zelenskyj speaks of “fierce fighting”

The Ukrainian newspaper “Ukrainska Pravda”, citing military sources, reported fighting in several towns on the Russian border. President Zelensky spoke of “fierce fighting along the entire front.” Ukraine will “inevitably destroy the occupier in such a way that all Russian offensive plans will be thwarted,” he said in a video message published on online services.

The Ukrainian president again called on Kiev's Western allies to provide further military aid. “It is important that our partners support our soldiers (…) with timely deliveries,” demanded Zelensky.

Evacuations in several towns

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said Russia had carried out several airstrikes with guided bombs the previous day in the area around the small town of Vovchansk, which lies near the border with Russia's Belgorod region. Regional Governor Oleh Synegubow confirmed increased Russian shelling in the north of the Kharkiv region. According to a regional Ukrainian official, evacuations were carried out in Vovchansk, where around 3,000 people currently live, and in several nearby towns.

The Moscow-installed representative Vitaly Ganchev, who is responsible for the Russian-occupied parts of the Kharkiv region, said on the Telegram online service that fighting was taking place on “several sections of the contact line,” “including the border areas.”

Russia apparently wants to establish a “buffer zone”.

According to a high-ranking Ukrainian military official, the Russian army's goal is to create a “buffer zone” in the Kharkiv and Sumy regions in order to prevent the Ukrainian military from further shelling the Belgorod region on the Russian side. Russian President Vladimir Putin had already spoken about such plans in March.

In recent months, the Russian region has been frequently attacked by the Ukrainian army. In addition, pro-Ukrainian Russian militias advanced into Russian territory in March of this year and in August 2023.

USA does not expect any major breakthroughs

The US doubted that Moscow would make major progress in the latest offensive. “We don't expect any major breakthroughs,” said National Security Council spokesman John Kirby. The US has “confidence” in the Ukrainian armed forces, Kirby explained. Washington expected the offensive.

Russia made appropriate preparations during the months-long impasse in the US Congress regarding new military aid. Meanwhile, the USA also announced further military aid for Ukraine worth $400 million (a good 370 million euros). The armaments to be delivered should come from stocks of the US Department of Defense – and therefore be available quickly.

Marc Dugge, ARD Kiev, tagesschau, May 11, 2024 5:58 a.m

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