War in Ukraine, day 809 | Moscow says it is gaining ground in the Kharkiv region

Russia said on Sunday it was advancing in the Kharkiv region (north-eastern Ukraine), claiming the capture of four additional localities near the border as part of the offensive it launched on Friday, leading to the evacuation thousands of civilians.


Posted at 7:57 a.m.

Updated at 11:48 a.m.

“All areas of the northern border are under enemy fire almost 24 hours a day. The situation is difficult,” Oleg Synegubov, governor of the Kharkiv region, said on social media. “The number of localities where active hostilities are underway has increased,” he added.

“In total, 4,073 people were evacuated,” he wrote shortly before on social networks, the day after Russian forces claimed the capture of five villages in the region.

The Russian Defense Ministry then reported the capture of four additional localities very close to the border – Gatishche, Krasnoye, Morokhovets and Oleïnikovo – in this region which is home to Ukraine’s second city.

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PHOTO VYACHESLAV MADIYEVSKYY, REUTERS

Rescue workers tend to injured Ukrainian soldier

Mr. Synegubov also indicated that a 63-year-old man was killed on Sunday by artillery fire in the village of Glyboke and that a 38-year-old man was injured in Vovchansk, a border town with a population of around 3,000. inhabitants before the current offensive.

AFP was able to see people evacuated near Vovchansk on Sunday, most of them elderly and disoriented.

“We weren’t ready to leave. Home is home,” says Lyouda Zelenskaya, 72, with her cat Zhora in her arms. Like her, Liouba Konovalova, 70, remembers “the terrifying night” which preceded their evacuation. Both lived together after their children left.

Around them, volunteers assist elderly evacuees sitting on benches to register and receive food before leaving for Kharkiv.

According to Oleksiï Kharkivsky, a Vovchansk police officer mobilized for these evacuations, “several people” died in bombings on Saturday and the body of another was discovered under rubble during the night. “The city is constantly under fire,” he says. “Artillery, mortars, the enemies attack with everything they have.”

According to him, some 1,500 people have been evacuated since Friday from this city affected by 32 drone attacks in the last 24 hours. Governor Synegubov estimated the number of civilians still present in Vovchansk at 500.

“Significantly degraded” situation

Volodymyr Tymochko, police chief of the Kharkiv region, said Vovchansk was under attack from three sides and Russian troops were on its outskirts. “Despite active fighting, police continue to evacuate people who currently live 300 or 500 meters from the contact line,” he told AFP at the evacuation point.

The commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian forces Oleksandr Syrsky assured for his part that “attempts to break through our defenses have been stopped”.

But he admitted that the situation in the Kharkiv region had “significantly deteriorated” and remained “complicated”. Ukrainian forces are “doing everything they can to maintain their defense lines and inflict damage on the enemy,” he said.

As for the country’s second city itself, “despite all the events taking place in the region, Kharkiv is calm, we do not see people leaving,” declared its mayor, Igor Terekhov, quoted by the municipal Council.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky assured, in a speech on Saturday evening, that Ukrainian counterattacks were underway in this border area, from where Russian troops had been pushed back almost two years ago.

“Disrupting Russian offensive plans is now our number one task,” he said, urging Kyiv’s allies to speed up arms deliveries.

Authorities in Kyiv have been warning for weeks that Moscow could try to attack the northeastern border regions, as Ukraine faces delays in Western aid and a shortage of soldiers.

Four dead in Belgorod

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REUTERS PHOTO

Rescue workers search for survivors following the collapse of part of a multi-story building in Belgorod on May 12.

On Saturday, the Russian Defense Ministry said its troops had “liberated” five Ukrainian villages in the region, as well as another in the Donetsk region, further south.

Ukrainian forces, for their part, have increased strikes inside Russia and in areas of Ukraine occupied by the Russians, in particular against energy infrastructure.

Four people died on Sunday in the partial collapse of a building in Belgorod, near the Ukrainian border, after a strike by the Kyiv army, according to the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry. Around twenty people were injured.

A Ukrainian drone also caused a fire on the site of the Volgograd refinery (southern Russia) during the night from Saturday to Sunday, lamented the governor of the region of the same name, Andreï Botcharov, assuring that the fire had been extinguished. and that there were no victims.

The Russian Defense Ministry, for its part, said that a total of eight Ukrainian drones had been intercepted overnight, including one “over the territory of the Volgograd region”, without further details.

Owned by the giant Lukoil, the refinery claims on its website to be “the largest producer of petroleum products in the Southern Federal District”, which brings together eight regions in southwest Russia.

The site had already been the target of a Ukrainian drone attack in early February, without casualties there either.

Kyiv says it is acting in response to strikes by the Russian army against civilian sites, starting with its energy infrastructure.

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