Zelensky: Ukraine Has 'Combat Control' in Kharkiv

President says his forces have wrested back control of areas that Russia had entered this month
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 25, 2024 11:20 AM CDT
Zelensky: Ukraine Has 'Combat Control' in Kharkiv
Military medics give first aid to a wounded Ukrainian soldier at a medical stabilization point near Bakhmut, in the Donetsk region of Ukraine, on Friday.   (Iryna Rybakova via AP)

Ukrainian forces have secured "combat control" of areas where Russian troops entered the northeastern Kharkiv region earlier this month, President Volodymyr Zelensky said. Meanwhile, two people were killed Saturday in an aerial attack on the city of Kharkiv, which is the region's capital, according to local officials. Kharkiv is about 12 miles from the Russian border. Moscow's troops have in recent weeks captured villages in the area as part of a broad push, and analysts say they may be trying to get within artillery range of the city. Ukrainian authorities have evacuated more than 11,000 people from the region since the start of the offensive on May 10, per the AP. "Our soldiers have now managed to take combat control of the border area where the Russian occupiers entered," Zelensky said in his nightly video address on Friday evening.

Zelensky's comments appeared to be at odds with those made by Russian officials. Viktor Vodolatsky, a member of Russia's lower house of parliament, said Russian forces now controlled more than half of the town of Vovchansk, 3 miles inside the border, Russian state news agency Tass reported Friday. Vovchansk has been a flashpoint for fighting since Russia launched the offensive in the Kharkiv region. Vodolatsky was also quoted as saying that once Vovchansk was secured, Russian forces would target the cities of Sloviansk, Kramatorsk, and Pokrovsk in the neighboring Donetsk region. Independent confirmation of the claims wasn't immediately possible.

Russia's Kharkiv push appears to be a coordinated new offensive that includes testing Ukrainian defenses in the Donetsk region further south—where Russia's Defense Ministry said Saturday that its forces had taken over the village of Arkhanhelske—while also launching incursions in the northern Sumy and Chernihiv regions. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the Kremlin's army is attempting to create a "buffer zone" in the Kharkiv region to prevent Ukrainian cross-border attacks. The Russian push is shaping up to be Ukraine's biggest test since Moscow's full-scale invasion on Feb. 24, 2022, with outnumbered and outgunned Ukrainian forces being pressed at several points along the 620-mile front line that snakes from north to south in eastern Ukraine. More here.

(More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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