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Putin’s forces ‘pushed back’ in key Kharkiv town – latest on Ukraine-Russia war



Putin sends message to West as he is sworn in for fifth term as Russian president

Ukraine has “partially pushed back” Russian forces in the key frontier town of Vovchansk just a few miles from the border, the military has reported.

The town has become Ukraine’s primary defensive line against Russia’s advancing forces in the Kharkiv region since the Kremlin launched an assault last Friday, opening up a second front after more than two years of war.

In its latest update, Ukraine’s general staff claimed on Facebook that their forces had fought back against the Kremlin’s troops, who recently entered the north and northwest sectors of the town. The claim came after a local police official from Vovchansk said Russia was “taking positions on the streets” of the town.

It comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s press secretary announced that the leader had cancelled all his foreign trips to concentrate on the developing situation on the frontline.

“Volodymyr Zelensky has instructed that all international events scheduled for the coming days be postponed and new dates coordinated,” said Sergii Nykyforov, Mr Zelensky’s press secretary, on Facebook.

Mr Zelensky was due to visit Spain and Portugal later this week to discuss bilateral agreements.


Fighting rages in Kharkiv’s villages

Ukrainian troops have repelled four Russia attacks along the border, but fighting was raging near a string of villages, a late-night report issued by Ukraine’s General Staff said.

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

Ukraine’s ground forces “continued to carry out stabilising moves” near Vovchansk, the report added.

Officials 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, Ukraine’s 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”.

Arpan Rai16 May 2024 06:45


Russia opening up new fronts to stretch Ukraine army

Russia is opening new fronts in order to stretch Ukraine‘s army, which is short of ammunition and manpower, along the about 1,000-kilometer (620-mile) front line, hoping defenses will crumble. Russian artillery and sabotage raids have also been menacing Ukraine‘s northern Chernihiv and Sumy regions.

The Russian Defense Ministry also claimed that its troops have retaken the village of Robotnye in the southern Zaporizhzhia region. Ukrainian forces had gained control of the village last August in what was seen as an important advance in a counteroffensive that eventually petered out.

Elsewhere in Ukraine‘s southern regions, an aerial attack on the central district of Kherson wounded 17 civilians, the regional prosecutor’s office said. And a Russian missile attack injured six people in Mykolaiv, according to Ukraine‘s rescue service.

Sam Rkaina16 May 2024 06:00


Putin arrives in China to deepen strategic ties with Xi

Vladimir Putin reached Beijing early today for talks with Xi Jinping that the Kremlin hopes will deepen a strategic partnership between the two nations, as the Russian invasion plays out in the backdrop.

The two leaders will sit down for informal chats, and a key dinner on Thursday, expected to be the highlight of the Russian leader’s two-day trip.

Kremlin foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov said those talks would range over Ukraine, Asia, energy and trade.

Mr Putin’s newly appointed defence minister, Andrei Belousov, as well as foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, security council secretary Sergei Shoigu and Ushakov will also attend, along with Russia’s most powerful CEOs.

China and Russia declared a “no limits” partnership in February 2022 when Mr Putin visited Beijing just days before he sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine, triggering the deadliest land war in Europe since the second World War.

Ahead of his visit, Mr Putin spoke to China’s Xinhua news agency and praised the Chinese leader for helping to build a “strategic partnership” with Russia based on national interests and deep mutual trust.

“It was the unprecedentedly high level of the strategic partnership between our countries that determined my choice of China as the first state that I would visit after taking office as president,” Mr Putin said.

“We will try to establish closer co-operation in the fields of industry and high technology, space and peaceful nuclear energy, artificial intelligence, renewable energy sources and other innovative sectors,” he said.

Arpan Rai16 May 2024 05:43


It’s time we gave Ukraine the tools it needs to finish the job

Were they being undiplomatically honest, however, the Ukrainians would admit that they would far rather have received a bumper consignment of Patriot missile defence systems, F-16 fighters and Abrams armoured vehicles than the distinguished statesman. That way, they might have a better chance of preventing the Russians from destroying their second city, Kharkiv. Such a denouement is unlikely – but the possibility of it cannot be dismissed.

Like Mr Blinken, Joe Biden has obviously been preoccupied with the Middle East in recent months – and, while a superpower has more than sufficient political and diplomatic “bandwidth” to cope with multiple crises, the decision to send America’s most senior diplomat to Ukraine is an important visible signal that the West is not entirely distracted by the war in Gaza.

Read our full editorial here:

Arpan Rai16 May 2024 05:22


Blinken says US understands urgency for more air defences

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in Ukraine to highlight U.S. support, though most of the money he announced Wednesday, about $1.6 billion, comes from the $60 billion allotted to Ukraine in the supplemental foreign assistance legislation passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden, officials said.

He said the money would be used for three purposes: to provide weapons in the short term, to invest in Ukraine‘s defense-industrial base and to allow Ukraine to buy military supplies from other countries.

At a news conference with Blinken, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said of the aid: “This is a very powerful message to both our friends and our enemies.”

Blinken said Washington understands the urgency of Ukraine‘s need for additional air defences to protect against the Russian onslaught and was prioritizing them in its assistance.

He added that the U.S. has “not encouraged or enabled strikes outside of Ukraine“ using American-supplied long-range weapons. That decision is up to Kyiv authorities, he said.

Sam Rkaina16 May 2024 05:00


Russia says it destroys five ATACMS missiles fired by Kyiv

Russia’s air defence forces claim they have destroyed five long-range missiles known as ATACMS that Ukraine’s military launched overnight on occupied Crimea, the Russian defence ministry said today.

The ministry did not share evidence to confirm the destruction of US-provided Army Tactical Missile Systems or ATACMS missiles. It also did not share if the attack caused any damage to infrastructure or its forces.

Washington said earlier this week their ATACMS missiles were already reaching Ukrainian forces.

Regional governor Mikhail Razvozhayev confirmed the aerial attack took place and claimed no one was injured.

Russia illegally annexed Crimea from Ukraine 10 years ago in a move broadly condemned internationally, and the region has now become an important flashpoint in the war.

Arpan Rai16 May 2024 04:54


Vovchansk focus of recent fighting, near Russian border

Vovchansk — just 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the Russian border — has been the focus of much of the recent fighting, and Ukrainian and Russian troops battled in its streets Wednesday.

Oleksii Kharkivskyi, head of the city’s patrol police, said Russian troops were taking up positions in the city, while the Ukrainian General Staff said its forces were trying to flush them out.

Gunfire could be heard in the background of a video the police official posted on his Instagram page. The Ukrainian presidential office said additional reinforcements were being deployed in the region, including army reserve units.

A weapon on an armoured vehicle with the Russian forces is fired in Vovchansk, Kharkiv Oblast (via REUTERS)

Sam Rkaina16 May 2024 04:00


Recap: Russian forces shell central Kharkiv, two injured, governor says

Russian forces shelled the central Shevchenkivsyi district of Kharkiv, Ukraine‘s second largest city, on Wednesday, injuring two people and damaging a five-storey building, the regional governor said.

Oleh Syniehubov, writing on the Telegram messaging app, said the two men were being treated in hospital. Reuters was unable to independently verify battlefield reports.

Kharkiv has been a frequent target of Russian forces in recent weeks. Russian troops pushed their way across the border last week in northern parts of Kharkiv region and military officials say they have captured 12 villages.

Sam Rkaina16 May 2024 02:00


Russian offensive is ‘wake-up call’ for civilised countries

Russia’s fresh offensive in Ukraine should act as a “wake-up call” for nations that have become “distracted” by other conflicts, the Defence Secretary has said.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky announced on Wednesday he had postponed all upcoming foreign trips after Russian troops launched an advance in his country’s north-eastern Kharkiv region.

Some Ukrainian troops have been forced to withdraw in the face of the offensive, one of the most significant since Russia’s full-scale invasion began in February 2022.

Speaking to Sky News, Grant Shapps expressed confidence that Russia would not seize the city of Kharkiv but said the UK had predicted that an “attention deficit from civilised countries” would enable such a situation to develop.

He said: “I really hope that this is the wake-up call that we have tried to issue now being heard, which is this is not a war in which you can afford to be fully attentive and then switch off or maybe get distracted into a different conflict and then expect nothing to change on the ground.”

He added: “We must back (the Ukrainians) all the time, not just periodically.”

Grant Shapps said the UK had warned that an ‘attention deficit’ from Western countries would allow Russia to mount a new offensive in Ukraine (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/PA) (PA Media)

Sam Rkaina16 May 2024 01:00


Blinken’s Kyiv song choice raises eyebrows as Ukraine fights fierce Russian attacks

Fresh from a day of delivering optimistic prognoses about how Ukraine would fare in the war with Russia despite gloomy news from the front lines, U.S. Secretary of State and amateur musician Antony Blinken may have thought he had the perfect upbeat song to perform with a Kyiv bar band on his fourth visit to the capital since the conflict began in 2022.

“I know this is a really, really difficult time,” Blinken told a packed crowd in the subterranean club Barman Dictat on Tuesday night.

“Your soldiers, your citizens, particularly in the northeast in Kharkiv, are suffering tremendously,” he said. “But they need to know, you need to know, the United States is with you, so much of the world is with you. And they’re fighting not just for a free Ukraine but for the free world, and the free world is with you, too.”

Maryam Zakir-Hussain16 May 2024 00:00

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