Ukraine’s army chief says Russia pushing more troops into critical Kharkiv region

Kyiv says its forces were continuing to strengthen their defensive lines in the area

Illia Novikov
Kyiv
Thursday 30 May 2024 16:25 BST
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Ukrainian servicemen of the 42nd Separate Mechanized Brigade fire a 2S1 Gvozdika self-propelled howitzer towards Russian troops in Kharkiv region
Ukrainian servicemen of the 42nd Separate Mechanized Brigade fire a 2S1 Gvozdika self-propelled howitzer towards Russian troops in Kharkiv region (Reuters)

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The chief of Ukraine's army has said Russia is pushing more troops into the northeastern Kharkiv region where Moscow's forces have made significant advances in a spring offensive.

Ukraine's GUR military intelligence operation claimed that sea drones destroyed two Russian KS-701 patrol boats in the Black Sea off the Russia-annexed Crimean peninsula. Russian officials did not immediately comment on the claim.

The air force said the overnight attacks included eight S-300 ballistic missiles, 11 cruise missiles and 32 Shahed drones. All the drones and seven of the cruise missiles were shot down, the air force said but did not give other details.

In Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, seven people were injured and a municipal services building caught fire in the attacks, regional governor Oleh Syniehubov said. Russian aerial strikes were also reported in the areas of Khmelnytskyi and Dnipropetrovsk, but there were no injuries.

Army chief Oleksandr Syrskyi said that Russia is bringing army units into the Kharkiv region from other parts of Ukraine to supplement forces in the two main focuses of fighting, the towns of Vovchansk and Lyptsi. Syrskyi said Ukraine has also moved reserve troops into the area.

"These forces are currently insufficient for a large-scale offensive and breakthrough of our defence," Syrskyi said in a statement on the Telegram messaging app.

Russia's Defense Ministry said its air defenses shot down eight US-made ATACMS missiles over the Azov Sea, whic

"These forces are currently insufficient for a large-scale offensive and breakthrough of our defence," Syrskyi said in a statement on the Telegram messaging app.h borders both Russia and Russian-occupied Ukrainian territory.

One person was injured by a drone explosion in Russia's Belgorod region, which borders Kharkiv and comes under daily attack from the Ukrainian side.

A lengthy delay in US military aid and Western Europe's inadequate military production has slowed crucial deliveries to the battlefield for Ukraine, and Russia has exploited the delays to make advances in the Kharkiv region.

Russian missiles and bombs also have pummeled Ukrainian military positions and civilian areas, including the power grid.

On Thursday, the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, assailed Russian attempts to sow discord in democracies with misinformation after hinting the Biden administration may soon allow Ukraine to use American-supplied munitions to strike inside Russia.

With an increasing number of officials saying Ukraine must be able to defend itself by attacking targets in Russian territory, Blinken joined Nato foreign ministers for a meeting in Prague, where he said Moscow’s use of misinformation and disinformation was a “poison” and signed an agreement with the Czech government to combat it.

In Prague for a Nato foreign ministers meeting, Mr Blinken cited Moscow's use of misinformation and disinformation, calling it a "poison" and signing an agreement with the Czech government to combat it. “We know that a major front in the competition that we have, the adversarial relationship that we have, notably with Russia, is on the information front,” Mr Blinken said.

A day earlier, Mr Blinken said US policy on how Ukraine deploys American weapons is constantly evolving, suggesting that Washington may rescind an unwritten prohibition on Ukraine's use of them for attacks on Russian territory.

Although US officials insist there is no formal ban, they have long made clear that they believe the use of American weapons to attack targets inside Russia could provoke an escalatory response from Moscow, something that Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised.

The Czech foreign minister, Jan Lipavsky, at a separate Nato-related event, Czech Foreign Minister Minister Jan Lipavsky, said Ukraine needs resources to counter Russia’s relentless assault.

“Ukraine cannot fight against Russia with one hand tied behind its back,” he said. “Ukraine must be able to fight against Russia’s barbaric invasion even on Russian territory. Political resolve must be backed by credible capabilities.”

Norway’s foreign minister, Espen Barth Eide, told Norwegian broadcaster NRK that his country believes Ukraine “has a crystal-clear right under international law to attack Russia inside Russia as part of the defense of its territory.”

Associated Press

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