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Russian Forces Advance in Ukraine’s Kharkiv Region

By Vusala Abbasova May 15, 2024

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Nearly five Russian battalions have managed to advance about five miles into Ukraine in just a few days following Friday's surprise incursions across the border, capturing several villages and pushing back Ukrainian soldiers. / Kharkiv Regional Prosecutor's Office

Russia is moving forward with what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine with its forces advancing in the Kharkiv region.

Nearly five Russian battalions have managed to advance about five miles into Ukraine in just a few days following Friday's surprise incursions across the border, capturing several villages and pushing back Ukrainian soldiers.

Volchansk, located 74km (45 miles) from Kharkiv and only five kilometers from the Russian border, has been heavily bombed in recent days, prompting Ukraine to deploy substantial forces to counter Russian incursions. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukraine has deployed up to five battalions to defend the city.

According to a high-ranking Ukrainian military source, Russian forces have advanced one kilometer (about 0.6 miles) into the northeastern Kharkiv region near Volchansk.

Marina Miron, a defence studies expert at King's College London, believes that the Russian army is trying to surround the city and block supplies from the east.

“This is one of the possible scenarios of what will happen here,” Deutsche Welle quoted Miron as saying. “But we must not forget that other areas in which the Russians are trying to advance, namely near Chasovoy Yar, Seversk and Rabotino in the Zaporozhye region, are also important.”

Frank Ledwidge, a former British military intelligence officer, believes that Russian forces are primarily focused on establishing a 'buffer zone' along the international border.

“Putin promised the creation of a buffer zone, and the operations we are seeing seem to be aimed at achieving this goal,” noted Ledwidge. However, he acknowledges the possibility of an offensive on Kharkiv, echoing concerns voiced by American officials.

If Russian advances continue, Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, could once again come within artillery range, exacerbating the plight of civilians already enduring relentless attacks.

Kharkiv is a regional center in northeast Ukraine, located 19 miles from the Russian border. Since the start of the full-scale invasion, Russians have attacked the city, as well as its region’s community, often because of its proximity to the border. They use guided air bombs, missiles, drones, and other weapons.

Russian forces launched a major assault on Ukraine on February 24, 2022. The invasion by land, air, and the sea began after a pre-dawn TV address where Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded that Ukraine’s military lay down its arms.

The Russian president claimed that the “special military operation” was aimed at protecting the people of two self-proclaimed separatist-controlled regions of Ukraine allegedly being attacked by the Ukrainian military. The Russian offensive was launched in northern, eastern and southern directions as Russia tried to cripple the defense lines of the Ukrainian army quickly. However, the strong resistance of Ukraine’s military and civilians across the country foiled the blitzkrieg attempts of the Russian army.

Ukraine and Russia have been at odds since the 2014 crisis in Ukraine’s southern and eastern regions. Ukraine accused Russia of annexing the Crimean Peninsula – a territory that extends into the Black Sea – and backing anti-government separatist regimes in the country’s eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.