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NATO top commander says Russia has insufficient numbers for breakthrough in Kharkiv Oblast

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk May 16, 2024 10:34 PM 2 min read
General Christopher Cavoli, the top U.S. commander in Europe, holds a closing press conference after a NATO Military Chiefs of Defence Meeting at NATO headquarters on Jan. 19, 2023, in Brussels, Belgium. (Omar Havana/Getty Images)
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Russian forces in Kharkiv Oblast do not have enough numbers to make a "strategic breakthrough" of Ukrainian defenses there, said General Christopher Cavoli, NATO's top commander in Europe, at a press conference on May 16.

Russia launched a new offensive with 30,000 troops on May 10, targeting Kharkiv Oblast, which is situated at the border with Russia in northeastern Ukraine.

Moscow's troops have focused their efforts in the directions of Lyptsi and Vovchansk, two settlements a few kilometers south of the border. There is ongoing combat in the northern outskirts of Vovchansk as of the morning of May 16.

Echoing comments from President Volodymyr Zelensky, who said earlier in the day that the situation in Kharkiv Oblast was "difficult" but "under control," Cavoli expressed confidence that Ukraine would be able to withstand the assault.

"The Russians don't have the numbers necessary to do a strategic breakthrough," said Cavoli.

"More to the point, they don't have the skill and the capability to do it, to operate at the scale necessary to exploit any breakthrough to strategic advantage."

Zelensky said that Russia had suffered "significant losses" in the area, which Cavoli partially agreed with.

"They do have the ability to make local advances and they have done some of that. They've also made some local losses," the general said.

Cavoli added that he was in "close contact" with Ukrainian commanders.

Zelensky: Ukraine can prevent occupation of Kharkiv with 2 Patriot systems
When asked if the U.S. is to blame for what is happening in Kharkiv Oblast, President Volodymyr Zelensky said, “It is the world’s fault.”
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