Zelensky prepares for wider offensive as Russian troops continue to advance | War in Ukraine

Zelensky prepares for wider offensive as Russian troops continue to advance | War in Ukraine
Zelensky prepares for wider offensive as Russian troops continue to advance | War in Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he expected, in an exclusive interview with Agence France-Presse, a broader Russian offensive in the North and East which would aim to take Kharkiv, regions where Moscow is continuing its assault on scale launched on May 10.

They have launched their operation, it may consist of several waves. And this is their first waveassured Mr. Zelensky on Friday as Russia has just made its biggest territorial gains since the end of 2022.

He nevertheless assured that, despite Russian advances in recent days in the Kharkiv region, the situation was better for his forces than a week ago, when Kremlin troops crossed the border by surprise.

For him, Russia wants to attack the city of Kharkiv, the country’s second city, only a few dozen kilometers from the front. Moscow had already failed to take it in 2022 and Vladimir Putin said on Friday that it had no intention of attacking it. for the moment.

The Russian offensive officially aims, according to Mr. Putin, to respond to Ukrainian strikes in recent months on Russian territory and create a buffer zone supposed to prevent these strikes.

Moscow’s forces are trying to take advantage of the lack of men and weapons facing Ukraine after two years of war.

Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged to theAFP a lack of staff.

There are a significant number of brigades that are empty, he said.

A quote from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky

Faced with its shortcomings, kyiv passed controversial legislation, which came into force on Saturday, to accelerate military mobilization by lowering the age from 27 to 25.

On Friday, Mr. Zelensky also signed a law allowing prisoners to be recruited in exchange for parole.

Military aid

Turning to the West, he deplored having only a quarter of the anti-aircraft defense systems that kyiv needs, adding that he also needed 120 to 130 F-16 combat planes.

In the meantime, Ukraine has still launched, according to Moscow, around a hundred drone attacks against several Russian regions and the occupied Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, killing two people and leading to power outages and infrastructure fires.

In northeastern Ukraine, nearly ten thousand people were forced to leave their homes in the Kharkiv region.

A total of 9,907 people were evacuatedsaid Governor Oleg Synegubov, specifying that the Ukrainian armed forces had repelled two attempts to break through the defenses during the night.

But the situation is under controlTHE defenders carrying out assaults and sweeps in certain areashe assured.

Mr. Synegoubov had previously indicated that the Russians have began to destroy Vovchansk, using tanks and artillery. The city, located about fifty kilometers from Kharkiv, the regional capital, had some 18,000 inhabitants before the war.

About a hundred people are still there and violent fighting are taking place, Mr. Synegoubov then added.

The Russian army has often ended up destroying Ukrainian cities to conquer them, like Bakhmout last year or Avdiïvka in February.

kyiv accuses Moscow of using civilians as human shields in Vovchansk and having committed at least one summary execution.

Risk of breakthroughs Russian

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gave his first interview to foreign media since the offensive against the Kharkiv region on Friday.

Photo: Getty Images / AFP / ROMAN PILIPEY

A little further west, Russian forces advanced on their second axis of assault in the region.

They are targeting the village of Loukiantsi, to open the way to Lyptsi, another locality on the road to Kharkiv.

Hostilities continue in Loukiantsi. Yes, there is an enemy advance in this locality, but our soldiers are still trying to hold itsaid the governor of the Kharkiv region.

For its part, the Russian army claimed Friday the capture, in one week, of 12 localities in the region and affirmed that its forces continued to advance.

Moscow made its largest territorial gains in one week since the end of 2022, with some 257 km2 conquered in the Kharkiv region alone, according to an analysis Thursday by theAFP based on data provided by the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

Friday afternoon, Kharkiv, very regularly bombed, was hit by new Russian strikes which left at least three dead and 28 injured, according to a latest report provided by Mayor Igor Terekhov in the evening.

In Vovchansk, Russian strikes killed a 35-year-old man and injured another 60-year-old, both civilians, according to the regional prosecutor’s office.

In Odessa, a port city in the south of the country which is also regularly hit, a Russian bombing left one dead and five injured hospitalized, according to local governor Oleg Kiper.

For its part, the Russian army said it faced around a hundred drones launched from Ukraine during the night from Thursday to Friday.

The governor of the Belgorod region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, reported the death of a mother and her four-year-old child in the village of Oktyabrsky.

In the evening, he also announced the death of a man in the village of Novaya Naoumovka attacked by drones, and of an injured person hospitalized.

In the Krasnodar region (southwest), authorities claimed that two Ukrainian drones had set fire to a refinery in Tuapse. In this same region, civil infrastructure were hit and caught fire in Novorossiysk, a Black Sea port.

In Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula annexed in 2014 by Russia, the city of Sevastopol, headquarters of the Russian fleet in the Black Sea, was partly deprived of power because an electrical installation was damaged, according to local authorities.

Finally, during the day of Friday a woman was killed by a strike in the Russian region of Bryansk, according to the governor.

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