Feedback | Thursday, May 23, 2024

16/05/24 | 12:54 pm

Zelenskiy postpones travel abroad as Russian troops enter Ukraine border town

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy postponed all his foreign trips as Ukraine’s battlefield situation continued to deteriorate on Wednesday and Kyiv said fighting raged in the northeastern border town of Vovchansk in Kharkiv region.

The capture of the town, 5 km (3 miles) from the border, would be Russia’s most significant gain since it launched an incursion into the region on Friday, opening a new front in its invasion and forcing Kyiv to rush in reinforcements.

The assault keeps Ukraine’s forces, also holding the 1,000- km (600-mile) front line in east and south, off balance ahead of what Zelenskiy has said could be a big Russian offensive. Moscow has been slowly making ground in the east for months.

“The situation is extremely difficult. The enemy is taking positions on the streets of the town of Vovchansk,” Oleksiy Kharkivskyi, Vovchansk’s patrol police chief, said on Facebook.

Dmytro Lazutkin, a spokesman for the defence ministry, said “some” Russian infantry groups had entered the town. Ukrainian troops later managed to “partially” push them back, the general staff said, but “defensive actions” raged in the north and northwestern outskirts.

A late-night report issued by Ukraine’s General Staff said its troops had repelled four Russia attacks along the border, but fighting was raging near a string of villages. Troops “continued to carry out stabilising moves” near Vovchansk.

The report said heavy fire had prompted the military to reposition some troops near Kupiansk to the southeast, an area that has seen heavy fighting in recent months.

On Tuesday, the General Staff said troops had pulled back to new positions in the Vovchansk and Lukyantsi areas due to “a consequence of enemy fire and storming action”.

Russia’s defence ministry said on Wednesday its forces captured two more settlements in the region, bringing the total count to 12 since Friday. The latest were Hlyboke and Lukyantsi, it said, both about 25 km from Kharkiv’s outskirts.

Police remained in Vovchansk and were continuing to evacuate people, Kharkivskyi said. Nearly 8,000 people have been evacuated from Vovchansk and border areas since Friday’s assault.

(Reuters)

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