War in Ukraine: hundreds of people evacuated, Russia claims the capture of six villages

War in Ukraine: hundreds of people evacuated, Russia claims the capture of six villages
War in Ukraine: hundreds of people evacuated, Russia claims the capture of six villages

On the Ukrainian side, “1,775 people were evacuated,” said the region’s governor, Oleg Synegoubov, adding that Russia had fired artillery and mortars on 30 localities in the area over the past 24 hours.

He assured that there was “no threat of a Russian ground operation” towards the city of Kharkiv, the second largest in the country.

“Counterattacks”

In his evening address, President Volodymyr Zelensky assured that Ukrainian troops “carried out counterattacks” in the Kharkiv region.

“Our number one task now is to disrupt the Russians’ offensive plans,” he said.

Two men aged 50 and 48 were killed and two others injured by an aerial bomb attack in Vovchansk, near the border, the governor said.

On the outskirts of Kharkiv, evacuees, many of them elderly, arrived in cars and vans, loaded with as much belongings as possible, at an evacuation point. Evacuees are registered and provided with food, while medical assistance is provided in makeshift tents.

Lyubov Nikolayeva, 61, told AFP that she had fled her border village of Lyptsi with her 81-year-old mother. “It is impossible to live there,” she said, adding that her family had stayed “until the last moment”.

“Enemy fire is constant, guided aerial bombs and mortar shells whizzing overhead. It became very scary,” she said.

“Take back the initiative”

An aid worker helping to evacuate residents, Dmytro Tkachenko, 37, explained that “the situation is really tough, difficult, in the Vovchansk and Lyptsi directions.”

“There are movements (of troops) and at the moment, it really complicates the evacuation of these areas, because it is really dangerous,” he added.

The Kharkiv region has been essentially under Ukrainian control since September 2022.

“We must interrupt Russian offensive operations and regain the initiative,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday, once again calling on his allies to accelerate arms deliveries.

“Every air defense system, every anti-missile system is literally what saves lives,” Zelensky said.

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A senior Ukrainian military Source said Russian forces were trying to “create a buffer zone” in the Kharkiv region and neighboring Sumy to prevent attacks on Russian territory.

Ukrainian forces have increased strikes inside Russia and in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, particularly against energy infrastructure.

On Saturday, authorities installed by Moscow in the Lugansk region, occupied by Russia in eastern Ukraine, announced the death of three people in a Ukrainian attack, carried out with American-made missiles, on an oil depot .

The governor, Leonid Pasechnik, said the strike had “enveloped the oil depot in flames and damaged surrounding houses.” “The death toll stands at three and eight other people are hospitalized,” he said on social media.

Three people also died and nine were injured on Saturday in a Ukrainian strike on a restaurant in Donetsk, a city occupied by Moscow in the eponymous Ukrainian region, according to the occupation authorities.

In Russia, media reported two people killed by Ukrainian strikes in the Belgorod and Kursk regions.

“Not a big offensive”

For weeks, Ukrainian officials have been warning that Moscow could try to attack northeastern regions, pushing its advantage, as Ukraine faces delays in Western aid and a shortage of fighters.

The Ukrainian military said that “reserve units have been deployed to strengthen the defense in this area of ​​the front.”

According to military expert Olivier Kempf, of the Foundation for Strategic Research, “what we have seen over the past 24 hours is something limited”, with “a small artillery preparation and not a large concentration of troops behind it” .

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