Fighting intensified in Kharkiv with Russia announcing the entry of its forces into Vovchansk

Fighting intensified in Kharkiv with Russia announcing the entry of its forces into Vovchansk
Comment on the photo, Military medics treat a wounded Ukrainian soldier, amid the Russian attack on Ukraine, near the town of Vovchansk

  • author, Doug Faulkner
  • Role, BBC News

Russia claims its forces entered the northeastern border city of Vovchansk, near Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city.

Ukraine says there is still heavy fighting taking place there.

Russia intensified its attacks on the region after surprise cross-border incursions on Friday, seizing at least nine villages and settlements in one of the most significant ground offensives since its large-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Thousands of civilians have fled towards Kharkiv, and there are concerns among Ukrainian leaders about what would happen if Russian forces came within artillery range of the city.

The Ukrainian military said Russia deployed “significant forces” – up to five battalions – in its latest offensive, acknowledging it had achieved a “tactical success”.

But the army claimed in a statement that Russia lost more than 100 soldiers in one day, adding that it was taking steps to repel the advancing forces.

The city of Vovchansk, located 74 kilometers (45 miles) from Kharkiv, has come under heavy bombardment in recent days, and officials in the surrounding area say Moscow is now targeting settlements with slide bombs.

Although it is an important city in the region, Vovchansk has no specific military importance, although its capture would be a blow to Ukrainian morale.

He told local television that Ukrainian forces were blocking Russian forces, but warned that the fighting could spread to new settlements, according to Reuters.

Nearly 6,000 people were evacuated from the area, he added, adding that 30 settlements were subjected to mortar or artillery shelling.

While it is believed that this Russian cross-border incursion is still unlikely to be able to capture Kharkiv, their gradual approach on the new northeastern front line is only increasing anxiety among those living there.

Kostyantin Timchenko, who lives in Vovchansk, was among those who left the town to seek the relative safety of Kharkiv, and said he was shocked by how close the fighting was.

“Half a kilometer away, there is already fighting with automatic weapons,” he said.

“On the one hand [of the Vovcha River] We are [Russians]On the other hand – ours.

“The tanks kept approaching, shooting back and then leaving. I thought it would be okay. I was shocked. I wish I had known that beforehand.”

Away from Kharkiv, two people were killed in bombing of the Russian-controlled city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, the city’s Russian-appointed mayor claimed.

A Moscow-appointed local governor said at least three people were killed in a raid on an industrial zone in Krasnodon, known as Sorokin in Ukrainian, a Russian-controlled part of eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine did not comment on these events.

Russia also said it shot down 31 Ukrainian drones over several areas of the Crimean peninsula it annexed.

A Ukrainian security source said that Ukrainian forces bombed an oil station and an electricity substation in western Russia.

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