May 13, 2024

Russia Goes After Kharkiv, Again


Russia Goes After Kharkiv, Again
Russian soldier pointing a rifle in front of a military vehicle. Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, Wikimedia Commons.

On May 10, Russia attempted to break Ukraine's northeastern line of defense in Kharkiv Oblast. Ukrainian forces evacuated 1,775 civilians in villages neighboring the Russo-Ukrainian border.

Kharkiv Oblast was one of the first territories affected by the Russian invasion that began on February 24, 2022. Russian forces occupied a significant portion of the region, but could not capture the capital. By September 2022, the Ukrainian Armed Forces had retaken most of the oblast's territory.

After Russia's recent elections, there was speculation that Russia was preparing a new wave of mass mobilizations to encircle the city of Kharkiv after the presidential elections were over. On May 10, the second-largest city in Ukraine woke up to a barrage of artillery and rockets.

On May 11, The Russian Ministry of Defense announced on Telegram that a Russian unit had "liberated" five villages. Per the Kharkiv Regional Military Administration head, Oleh Syniehubov, the northeast of Ukraine is "fully controlled" [by Ukraine]. Yet Syniehubov admitted there is heavy fighting in the captured towns. He also said the Russian army attempted to advance in other directions in this region, but Ukrainian defenses stopped them. "There is no threat of a ground invasion of Kharkiv," Syniehubov said.

According to the BBC, Russia does not have enough forces to advance deep into Kharkiv, but it is also unclear how many men it is willing to use in this maneuver. The Ukrainian Armed Forces declared the area by the border with Russia's Belgorod Oblast a gray zone, which means Ukraine is on the defensive.

Two 48- and 50-year-old civilians were killed by guided missiles during Russia's attack on Kharkiv. Most of the evacuees were elderly. Sixty-one-year-old Lyubov Nikolaieva and her octogenarian mother were among those who left. The sounds of bombs and mortar shells became terrifying. Nikolaieva said, "It became impossible to live there ... [we] stayed there until the last moment."

 

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