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Zelensky in Kharkiv as Ukraine claims to halt Russian offensive | Russia-Ukraine War

Ukrainian leader meets senior military officers and wounded soldiers and says situation is “very difficult” but “under control.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the city of Kharkiv and said the situation in the northeast was “under control” after the army managed to partially halt the Russian advance, including thwarting an invasion of the key border town of Vovchansk.

“The situation in the Kharkiv region is generally under control and our soldiers are inflicting significant losses on the occupier. However, the area remains extremely difficult,” Zelensky said Thursday in a Telegram message after hearing reports from his commanders in the regional capital of Kharkiv, where Russia launched a lightning incursion last week.

The Ukrainian military said it had slowed down Russian troops during what was described as one of the most grueling phases of the war.

Russian President Vladimir Putin previously said Russia was advancing on “all fronts”, with the army making significant territorial gains in the Kharkiv region, saying it had also captured territory in the eastern Donetsk and from the south of Zaporizhia.

“The situation in the Kharkiv sector remains complicated but is developing dynamically,” Ukrainian army spokesman Nazar Voloshin said on national television on Thursday. “Our defense forces have partially stabilized the situation. The advance of the enemy in certain areas and localities has been stopped,” he added.

The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in a statement that the army had managed to prevent Russian projects “from penetrating deeper into the city of Vovchansk and gaining a foothold there.”

The capture of Vovchansk, 5 km from the border, if it had taken place, would have been Russia’s biggest gain since launching its incursion into the region last Friday.

However, reports of Ukrainian progress were contradicted by Vitaly Ganchev, a Russian official in Ukraine. Claiming that Vovchansk was “on the verge of complete liberation”, he said Russian troops were approaching the village of Lyptsi, located on one of the main roads leading to Kharkiv.

He told Russian state television: “Our guys are already on the outskirts. Work begins to liberate it, the aviation and artillery work constantly, they do not stop.

Charges

Ukrainian Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko on Thursday accused Russia of arresting and killing civilians in Vovchansk while trying to enter it.

“According to intelligence reports, the Russian army, trying to gain a foothold in the city, did not allow residents to evacuate. They started kidnapping people and taking them to basements,” he explained.

He added that there were reports that the Russian army had fired on civilians. “One of the residents of Vovchansk tried to escape on foot, refused to follow the orders of the invaders and was killed by the Russians.”

The reports have yet to be independently verified.

Russian soldiers have previously been accused of executing civilians in parts of Ukraine that they had captured and controlled since the February 2022 invasion. As of April 2022, the bodies of dozens of civilians, some with their hands tied , were found in the Kiev suburb of Bucha after a month of occupation by Russian forces.

Ukraine has been forced to evacuate nearly 9,000 people from the Kharkiv region since Russia launched the new attack, regional governor Oleg Synegubov said on Thursday.

Between May 9 and 15, Russia made some of its biggest gains since December 2022, seizing 278 square kilometers (107 square miles) of territory, according to calculations by the AFP news agency, based on data from the Institute for the Study of War.




News Source : www.aljazeera.com
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