GlobalRussia's renewed offensive on Kharkiv forces the evacuation of some 1,700 civilians

Russia’s renewed offensive on Kharkiv forces the evacuation of some 1,700 civilians

Russian forces began a new ground assault on northeastern Ukraine, causing several deaths and injuries and forcing the evacuation of more than 1,700 civilians from the Kharkiv region, local authorities said Saturday.

Artillery, mortars and aerial bombardment hit more than 30 towns and left at least three dead and five wounded, explained the governor, Oleh Syniehubov.

Ukraine sent reinforcements to the province on Friday to repel a Russian attempt to breach local defenses, officials said.

Russian troops intensified their bombing of Kharkiv, the country’s second largest city, in late March. Friday’s attack marked a tactical change by Moscow that Ukrainian authorities had been waiting for for weeks.

Russian military bloggers indicated that the assault could mark the beginning of Russian efforts to establish a “security zone” that the country’s president, Vladimir Putin, pledged to create earlier this year to stop frequent Ukrainian attacks on Belgorod and other areas. border regions.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy confirmed late Friday that Kremlin forces were expanding their operations and called on his Western allies to ensure that promised aid deliveries would soon reach the front lines.

“It is essential that partners support our warriors and the Ukrainian resistance with punctual and truly timely deliveries,” he said in a video statement on the social network of the simple announcement of the package”.

Kremlin forces have repeatedly tried to take advantage of kyiv’s shortage of ammunition and troops after the flow of Western military aid slowed in recent months and as new shipments delayed arrival.

Ukraine had said it knew Russia was massing thousands of troops along the northeastern border near Kharkiv and Sumy provinces. Although the latest offensive by Moscow’s forces was in the east of the country, but further south, Ukrainian intelligence services said they also expected an attack in the northeast.

Although Russian advances in the region are limited for now, analysts at the Institute for the Study of War described them on Friday as “tactically significant.”

According to an American think tank, Russia has “committed a relatively limited number of troops in its initial assaults,” but the offensive in Kharkiv “is designed to (remove) Ukrainian troops and material from other critical sectors on the front in the east.” ”.

The Russian military could also try to cut off key supply routes in the area and try to isolate Kharkiv, where about 1.1 million people currently live and is just 30 kilometers (about 20 miles) south of the border.

In the early days of the war, Russia unsuccessfully attempted to assault Kharkiv, but retreated from its periphery after a month of siege. Seven months later, in the fall of 2022, the Ukrainian military expelled rival forces from Kharkiv. The bold counterattack helped persuade Western countries that kyiv could defeat Moscow on the battlefield and deserved military support.

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