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Ukraine withdraws forces from Kharkiv region border areas

Photo : Reuters

Kyiv, Ukraine: Amid a new offensive launched by Moscow, Ukraine has strategically pulled back troops near several villages in the northeastern Kharkiv region, where Russian forces have been advancing and launching attacks along the border. The move comes as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made an unannounced visit to Kyiv, where President Volodymyr Zelensky urged for expedited US supplies of weapons.

Last week, Moscow initiated a surprise major ground assault on the Kharkiv region as part of its efforts to advance across the battlefield with Kyiv, which has been facing challenges due to shortages in arms and manpower.

The Ukrainian military disclosed details of the troop pullback, stating that in response to enemy fire and ground assaults, units near Lukyantsi and Vovchansk manoeuvred and relocated to more advantageous positions. This action, though framed as strategic manoeuvring, is typically indicative of retreats during the ongoing conflict.

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The villages of Lukyantsi and Vovchansk, situated approximately 30 kilometres apart near the Russian border, have been primary targets in the recent offensive. Despite the challenging situation, Ukraine's General Staff asserted that its forces are preventing Russian occupiers from establishing a foothold in the region.

To counter the Russian advance, Kyiv has deployed reinforcements to the area, aiming to thwart any further incursions.

Meanwhile, there is speculation among military analysts that Moscow's objective may be to compel Ukraine to redirect troops from other critical areas, such as around the strategic town of Chasiv Yar in the Donetsk region, where Russia has also made advances.

Addressing the nation, President Zelensky highlighted the intensity of fighting in the Donetsk and Kharkiv regions, characterizing them as the most challenging fronts currently.

In response to a drop in temperatures that strained Ukraine's energy system, Kyiv had introduced emergency power blackouts. However, some of these blackouts were lifted on Wednesday, providing relief to affected regions.

Blinken's visit coincided with the Russian defence ministry's announcement of capturing two more villages in the Kharkiv region. During discussions with Blinken, President Zelensky appealed for additional Patriot air defence systems to bolster border defenses.

Ukrainian officials estimate that over 30,000 Russian forces have been deployed to the northeastern region, heightening tensions in the area. Despite these developments, Kharkiv, the region's main city and Ukraine's second-largest, has not been directly threatened by the offensive.

May 15, 2024 4:06 p.m. 14906

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