Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Russia-Ukraine war live: Putin’s forces ‘pushed back’ in key Kharkiv town

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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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Ukraine’s Zelensky cancels foreign visits as Putin’s forces advance around Kharkiv

Mr Blinken did not go into detail about what would be included in the latest pledge, which will be drawn from the $61bn package passed by Congress last month.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain15 May 2024 23:00

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On the eve of his visit to China, Putin says Russia is prepared to negotiate over Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin says his regime is prepared to negotiate over the conflict in Ukraine in an interview with Chinese media on the eve of visit to partner Beijing that has backed Moscow in its full-scale invasion of its neighbor.

“We are open to a dialogue on Ukraine, but such negotiations must take into account the interests of all countries involved in the conflict, including ours,” Putin was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua News Agency on Wednesday.

The Russian leader’s two-day trip starting Thursday comes as his country’s forces have pressed an offensive in northeastern Ukraine’s Kharkiv region that began last week in the most significant border incursion since the full-scale invasion began, forcing almost 8,000 people to flee their homes.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain15 May 2024 22:00

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Russia hits high-rise residential building in Kharkiv, injuring at least 20

Russia carried out a series of air strikes on residential areas in the city of Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine on Tuesday 14 May, injuring at least 20 people. One of the sites hit was a 20-storey building in the city centre, emergency services said. Regional prosecutors said Russia had used its new guided UMPB D-30 bombs in that attack. At another site, at least 15 garages near to a residential building caught fire after being struck by the guided bombs, the prosecutors added. Oleh Syniehubov, the regional governor, said Russia had struck residential areas of Kharkiv city seven times throughout the day.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain15 May 2024 21:00

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Russian air strikes injure at least 25 in Ukraine’s south, say local officials

Russian missile and guided bomb strikes on Ukraine‘s southern cities of Mykolaiv and Kherson injured at least 25 people, local officials said on Wednesday.

Nineteen people, including one teenager, received injuries when Russia struck Kherson, Roman Mrochko, head of Kherson’s military administration, said on Telegram. Three people were in a severe condition.

“The city centre of Kherson. In the middle of the day, three Russian aerial bombs hit a residential area,” regional governor Oleksandr Prokudin said on Telegram.

Eight apartment blocks, private houses, two schools, and a medical facility were damaged, local officials said. Separately, a Russian missile attack caused a heavy fire in a car repair service in Mykolaiv, emergency services said on Telegram. At least six people were wounded.

Russia denies targeting civilians but thousands have been killed and injured in its strikes during the 27-month-old full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain15 May 2024 20:00

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Ukraine’s Zelensky cancels foreign visits as Putin’s forces advance around Kharkiv

Mr Blinken did not go into detail about what would be included in the latest pledge, which will be drawn from the $61bn package passed by Congress last month.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain15 May 2024 19:00

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Dozens of countries signing up for Ukraine peace summit, Switzerland says

Switzerland has had over 50 registrations from the more than 160 delegations the neutral country has invited to a summit next month that Bern hopes will pave the way for a peace process in Ukraine, President Viola Amherd said on Wednesday.

Amherd, speaking at a press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz after the two held talks in Berlin, said her government was seeking a broad-based turnout for the summit, but that China had not yet said it would attend.

Countries from South America, Africa and the Middle East were among those that had confirmed they would come, according to Amherd, who in January agreed to host a peace summit at the behest of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Russia has not been invited, and diplomats and foreign policy experts say the talks due to be held near the Swiss city of Lucerne are likely to focus on forging consensus on how to mitigate risks stemming from Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Roughly half of the countries who have said they would take part were non-European, and the list of attendees was likely to keep changing until the last minute, Amherd said.

Switzerland was pressing to persuade more countries from the so-called Global South and China to sign up, she added.

“This work is continuing at full speed,” Amherd said.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain15 May 2024 17:59

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