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Governor: Around 100 civilians remain in Vovchansk, Russians have threatened to shoot them

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk May 21, 2024 10:20 PM 2 min read
An aerial view of the town of Vovchansk in Kharkiv Oblast, on May 20, 2024. (Libkos/Getty Images)
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Around 100 Ukrainian civilians remain in the embattled town of Vovchansk, but Russian forces refuse to allow them to leave and have threatened to shoot them, Kharkiv Oblast Governor Oleh Syniehubov said on state television on May 21.

Ukraine's Defense Ministry confirmed on May 15 that Russian troops had entered the northern parts of Vovchansk. The Ukrainian military said at the time it had prevented Russia from establishing a foothold deeper in the town.

Syniehubov said on May 20 that more than 10,500 civilians had been evacuated from Kharkiv Oblast amid the renewed Russian onslaught.

The governor said on May 21 that those who remained in Vovchansk would be evacuated at the soonest possible opportunity but that 100 civilians had been effectively "taken hostage" by Russian troops and could not leave.

Serhii Bolvinov, the head of the investigative department of the police of Kharkiv Oblast, said on May 17 that Russian forces had captured at least 40 civilians, most of whom were elderly, and were using them as human shields.

Similar allegations have been made by other Ukrainian officials since Russia's new offensive in Kharkiv Oblast.

Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said on May 16 that Russian forces were taking Ukrainian civilians captive and preventing their evacuation.

"We know of the first cases of executions of civilians by the Russian military," Klymenko said on Telegram.

Klymenko said that a Vovchansk resident was killed by Russian soldiers after he refused to obey their orders and attempted to escape on foot. Police investigators have opened a criminal case on the grounds of violations of rules of war.

Russia’s new Kharkiv offensive pushes Vovchansk to the brink of annihilation
VOVCHANSK, KHARKIV OBLAST – The glide bombs arrive in groups of three. Their flight can be heard from far away, but only in the last second before impact is it clear where it will hit. The explosions, orders of magnitude more powerful than regular artillery shells, shake the ground where the
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