Ukraine war briefing: Zelenskiy says Kyiv’s forces have taken control of Kharkiv border area | Ukraine

  • The Ukrainian president said Ukrainian forces had secured “combat control” of areas where Russian troops staged an incursion this month in northern parts of Kharkiv region. “Our soldiers have now managed to take combat control of the border area where the Russian occupiers entered,” Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address on Friday, after meeting with military and regional officials in Kharkiv city.

  • Zelenskiy’s comments appeared to be at odds with comments by Russian officials. Viktor Vodolatskiy, a member of Russia’s lower house of parliament, said Russian forces controlled more than half the territory of the town of Vovchansk, 5km (three miles) inside the border. Tass news agency also quoted Vodolatskiy as saying that once Vovchansk was secured, Russian forces would target three cities in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region – Sloviansk, Kramatorsk and Pokrovsk.

  • Ukraine’s army said its forces had “stopped” Russia from advancing further into the Kharkiv region and were now counterattacking, but Moscow was intensifying its assault on other parts of the front. It was not possible to verify the battlefield accounts of each side. Kyiv has been fighting a fresh Russian land assault in the Kharkiv region since 10 May, when thousands of Moscow’s troops stormed the border, making their biggest territorial advances in 18 months.

  • The situation in Vovchansk was “tense but controlled by the defence forces”, the Ukrainian military’s general staff said in its evening report on Friday. “The Russian army today launched air terror against this town – eight guided bombs hit the town.” Attacks were launched on at least two other settlements north of Kharkiv, it said. Zelenskiy visited the Kharkiv region’s capital on Friday to discuss the battle for Vovchansk.

  • Despite initial success, Russian forces “got completely bogged down in street battles for Vovchansk and suffered very high losses in assault units”, the Ukrainian commander-in-chief, Oleksandr Syrsky, said. In an attempt to seize the town, Russia “is currently moving reserves from different sectors to support active assault operations, but to no avail”, Syrsky added on social media. He warned, however, that the situation was turbulent on the eastern front, where Russia says its forces have made a string of gains in the past two weeks. Fighting near the eastern towns of Chasiv Yar, Pokrovsk and Kurakhove had been particularly “intense”, he said.

  • Ukrainian military bloggers said Ukrainian troops had been holding their ground around Vovchansk and Russian forces were using less infantry in the area and instead firing from a distance, with limited accuracy.

  • The US has announced a fresh package of $275m in military aid for Ukraine, including ammunition, missiles, mines and artillery rounds. The secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said the package, “which is part of our efforts to help Ukraine repel Russia’s assault near Kharkiv, contains urgently needed capabilities”. Since US lawmakers last month passed a $61bn military aid deal for Kyiv, President Joe Biden has ordered five tranches of military aid to be sent to Ukraine.

  • As Ukraine moved troops to the north-east, Kyiv again accused Moscow of deliberately targeting civilians in strikes. State-owned train operator Ukrainian Railways reported a flurry of attacks on the Kharkiv region’s railway system overnight to Friday that damaged tracks, train carriages and buildings. The company posted photos on Telegram showing smoke rising from a wrecked carriage, twisted metal and debris beside tracks and a depot with some blown-out windows.

  • The EU’s economy commissioner said G7 talks in Italy on Friday might lead to a deal next month on tapping profits from frozen Russian assets to aid Ukraine. Paolo Gentiloni said the talks in Stresa involved “how to move forward on the path” already taken by the 27-nation bloc. Finance ministers from the Group of Seven industrial powers have been discussing how they could draw funds from the €300bn ($325bn) in blocked Russian central bank assets.

  • The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, said on Friday that Volodymyr Zelenskiy had no legitimacy after the expiry of his five-year term as Ukrainian president and this would raise a legal obstacle if Russia and Ukraine were to hold peace talks. With Ukraine under martial law amid the war, Zelenskiy has not faced elections despite the expiry of his five-year term this week – something he and Ukraine’s allies deem the right decision in wartime.

  • Reuters reported on Friday that Putin was ready to halt the war in Ukraine with a negotiated ceasefire that recognises the current battlefield lines, citing four Russian sources, but was ready to fight on if Kyiv and the west did not respond. Ukrainian officials dismiss any notion of Zelenskiy lacking legitimacy in a time of war.

    You may also like

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *