Putin: We Have No Intention of Occupying Kharkiv; Our Goal is to Create a Buffer Zone

On the same day, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that he expects the Russian army to expand its offensive in the north and east of Ukraine with the aim of capturing Kharkiv and establishing control over the city

by Sededin Dedovic
Putin: We Have No Intention of Occupying Kharkiv; Our Goal is to Create a Buffer Zone
© Carl Court / Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that he expects the Russian military to expand its offensive in the north and east of Ukraine, aiming to capture Kharkiv. "They have launched an operation that may consist of several waves, and this is the first wave," Zelensky said in an interview with Agence France-Presse.

Zelensky mentioned that despite recent Russian advances in the Kharkiv region, the situation for Ukrainian forces is better than it was a week ago when Kremlin forces unexpectedly crossed the border. According to the Ukrainian president, Russia aims to attack Kharkiv, the second-largest city in the country.

Zelensky also noted that regarding air defense systems, Ukraine currently has "25% of what it needs to defend the country." Ukraine would need 120 to 130 F-16 or other fighter jets to prevent Russia from having air superiority, Zelensky said.

"We are in an absurd situation where the West is afraid that Russia will lose the war, and at the same time does not want Ukraine to lose," the Ukrainian president believes. Russia has achieved the largest territorial gain since the end of 2022, capturing around 257 square kilometers in the Kharkiv region alone, AFP reports.

Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Polands Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki© Omar Marques / Getty Images

At least three people were killed and 28 injured in the bombing of Kharkiv yesterday afternoon, said Mayor Ihor Terekhov.

Putin does not want to occupy Kharkiv; there is another goal. Russian President Vladimir Putin said today that the goal of the Russian offensive in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine is to create a buffer zone, not to capture the namesake regional capital.

Putin, speaking to reporters in the Chinese city of Harbin, where he is on a visit, said that the Russian forces' attack on the Kharkiv region is a response to Ukrainian shelling of Russia's border Belgorod region. "I publicly stated that if this continues, we will be forced to create a security, sanitary zone," he said.

Putin assessed that the Russian military "achieves results every day" in the fighting in the Kharkiv region, that it "advances according to plan," and that for now, Russia does not plan to capture Kharkiv. The political and legal systems of Ukraine should address the question of Volodymyr Zelensky's legitimacy as president of Ukraine after his term ends, Putin said yesterday during his visit to China.

The Russian leader pointed out that the Ukrainian constitution "has various options." "This is a matter of assessment, and that assessment should primarily be given by the constitutional court, and generally the political system of Ukraine itself," Putin said.

He also emphasized that the legitimacy of the Ukrainian president is important for Moscow if it has to sign documents. He noted that the Istanbul agreements are the basis for possible negotiations. Moscow launched a sudden offensive in the Kharkiv region on May 9 and has already achieved the most territorial gains in the past year and a half.

The Russian Ministry of Defense announced that more than 100 Ukrainian drones attacking the southwestern Russian territory and the Crimean Peninsula were destroyed or intercepted last night. The ministry stated that the military destroyed 51 drones directed at Crimea, 44 over the Krasnodar region, six over the Belgorod region, and one over the Kursk region, and destroyed six automatic vessels in the Black Sea.

In the offensive that began a week ago, Russian forces are destroying the town of Vovchansk and advancing near the village of Lukyantsi, breaking through towards Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine, with a population of one and a half million.

The Russian military has often destroyed Ukrainian cities to capture them—Bakhmut last year or Avdiivka in February, resorting to heavy artillery attacks to drive out Ukrainian forces. "The enemy has begun to destroy Vovchansk, using tanks and artillery.

Being there is not only dangerous but practically impossible," said Kharkiv regional governor Oleh Synyehubov in a report. In that town, which had 18,000 residents before the war, 200 civilians remain, said the governor. West of Vovchansk, Russian forces have advanced and are targeting the village of Lukyantsi on the road to Kharkiv.

"Our soldiers are still trying to hold it and destroy the occupying forces," said Ukrainian governor Synyehubov. Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Oleksandr Syrsky, after "several days" at the front in the Kharkiv region, announced via Telegram that Russian forces "have expanded the active combat zone by 70 kilometers." "We must prevent any further advancement of enemy troops," he said, announcing "air, missile, artillery, and tank attacks to inflict maximum losses." Russia launched a surprise offensive in northern Ukraine on May 10, expanding the front while the Ukrainian army was on the defensive in the east and south due to personnel and ammunition shortages. During this new offensive, Moscow has already achieved the largest territorial gains since the end of 2022.

Volodymyr Zelensky Russian Ukraine