Fierce Battles in Ukraine: The Russian Offensive on Kharkiv Has Begun

According to morning reports, Russian forces in the Volchansk region of the Kharkiv region launched attacks on Ukrainian positions, this was confirmed by Zelensky. This is believed to be the beginning of the long-announced offensive against Kharkiv

by Sededin Dedovic
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Fierce Battles in Ukraine: The Russian Offensive on Kharkiv Has Begun
© John Moore / Getty Images

Ukrainian forces shelled Lugansk, as well as the Russian region of Belgorod, according to Russian officials. On the other hand, residents of the Ukrainian border town of Vovchansk in the Kharkiv region were evacuated from their homes due to a Russian tank attack, local authorities claim.

The State Department has approved the delivery of three HIMARS multiple rocket launcher systems to Ukraine. The battle for Kharkiv, along with a Russian combined attack on several Ukrainian regions, aided by "Shahed" drones and guided missiles, marked the events on the front during yesterday.

President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that Ukrainian forces managed to halt the Russian offensive towards Kharkiv, but battles are still ongoing. Ukrainian media report that Russian troops have occupied four border villages in the Kharkiv region, but the Ukrainian side has not confirmed any territorial losses.

Reports from the Russian side also indicate Ukrainian attacks on Russian territory. According to these reports, several Ukrainian drones and missiles were shot down above Belgorod and Moscow. Russian agencies report that in one such attack, an oil refinery in the Kaluga region was hit.

As the fighting continues, the commander of the Ukrainian Ground Forces, Major General Oleksandr Pavlyuk, warned that the next two months would be a critical phase of the war. "Russia knows that if we receive enough weapons within a month or two, the situation could turn against them," Pavlyuk said in an interview with The Economist.

Russian troops are deploying all the combat equipment they have to test the exhausted and under-supplied Ukrainian troops, the newspaper reports. Meanwhile, news from the U.S. indicates that a new $400 million military aid package is being prepared for Kyiv.

The package includes artillery, ammunition for the Patriot air defense system, anti-tank ammunition, missiles, grenades, armored vehicles, and small arms that can be immediately used on the battlefield.

Members of the Ukrainian military walk amid debris after a shopping center and surrounding buildings were hit by a Russian missi© Chris McGrath / Getty Images

As for the F-16 fighter jets requested by Kyiv from Western allies, they are expected to arrive in June or July.

A Reuters source did not specify which country will supply these U.S.-made fighters, but Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, and Belgium have committed to it so far. Russian air defense forces shot down several targets on the approach to Belgorod this morning, with preliminary information indicating eight civilians injured, said regional chief Vyacheslav Gladkov.

Gladkov stated that three injured were transferred to the regional clinical hospital, while two were hospitalized in the city hospital. Three more injured received medical assistance on the spot, according to RIA Novosti. Gladkov mentioned that more than 40 private households were damaged in the Belgorod region.

Belgorod is located in western Russia, on the border with Ukraine. According to morning reports, Russian forces in the Volchansk region of the Kharkiv region launched attacks on Ukrainian positions. This was confirmed by President Zelensky in his address.

This is believed to mark the beginning of the long-awaited offensive on Kharkiv. It is uncertain how many Russian forces are in the area. Various sources mention 50,000 soldiers in that direction, along with artillery, armor, and air forces.

According to Ukrainian sources, Ukraine successfully deployed reserves and thus restrained the offensive. Authorities in the city of Kharkiv are calming the situation and note that Russian forces have enough resources only for action in the border area, still far enough from the city.

However, a massive evacuation of the civilian population is underway in the Volchansk area and surrounding villages. This was confirmed by local authorities. For now, Ukrainian forces overall control the area. Russian sources confirmed that Russian forces carried out massive attacks on targets using artillery, mortars, cannons, and air forces.

At the same time, assault groups are entering some places , but it cannot be confirmed that those places are under the control of Russian forces. Volchansk is mentioned as one of the key targets. It is the main base and logistical center of the Ukrainian military in this area.

The city plays an important role in the defense of the northeastern part of the Kharkiv region. The Kharkiv region has long been a gray area, with no defense line set up, so Russian forces can enter several kilometers deep without crossing specific obstacles.

Ukrainian forces have also used this area, organizing several attacks on the Belgorod region in recent months. The attack itself is not surprising as Ukrainian authorities have been announcing an offensive on Kharkiv for months.

Besides the fact that the attack has indeed been launched, it is still unclear whether it is indeed an offensive on Kharkiv or if Russian forces will only attempt to move Ukrainian artillery away from the border and make it difficult to target deeper into Russian territory.

By potentially controlling Volchansk and some other border areas, Russian forces would somewhat reduce the capabilities of Ukrainian forces for attacks, primarily on the city of Belgorod, which has been a frequent target in recent months.

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