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Putin claims Russia has 'no plans to capture Kharkiv as of today'

by Chris York May 17, 2024 3:17 PM 2 min read
Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia, on March 26, 2024. (Contributor/Getty Images)
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Russia has no plans to capture Kharkiv "as of today" and is attacking Kharkiv Oblast in order to create a so-called buffer zone in the oblast to prevent shelling in Belgorod, President Vladimir Putin claimed on May 17.

The Kremlin has made similar claims in the past about its intentions, namely when it repeatedly stated in the months, weeks and even days before the launch of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine that it had no plans to invade Ukraine.

"As for what is happening on the Kharkiv front, this is (Ukrainians') fault, because they have shelled and continue to shell residential neighborhoods in border areas including Belgorod," Putin said while on a visit to China in comments reported by AFP.

"And I said publicly that if this continues, we will be forced to create a security zone."

When asked if Russia intends to capture the city of Kharkiv, he added: "As for Kharkiv, there are no such plans as of today."

Belgorod Oblast borders Ukraine's Sumy, Kharkiv, and Luhansk oblasts. Claims of rocket or drone attacks against the region have become a common occurrence in recent months.

Kyiv does not usually comment on reported attacks against the oblast but Russia reportedly often uses it as a launching ground for cross-border missile strikes against Ukraine.

Also on May 17, Ukraine's Commander-in-Chief, Oleksandr Syrskyi, said Russian forces have expanded offensive operations in Kharkiv Oblast, forcing Ukraine to deploy more reserve troops.

In a post on Telegram, Syrski said Moscow's troops had failed to make a breakthrough but acknowledged there will be "tough battles ahead."

Moscow 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.

Russian troops have focused their efforts in the directions of Lyptsi and Vovchansk, two settlements a few kilometers south of the border.

"The enemy expanded the zone of active hostilities by almost 70 kilometers, thus trying to force us to use an additional number of brigades from the reserve," Syrski said.

"The enemy launched an offensive well ahead of schedule when he noticed the rotation of our troops, however, he failed to break through our defenses.

"However, we understand that there will be tough battles ahead and the enemy is preparing for it."

Syrski's comments came a day after President Volodymyr Zelensky told journalists Russian troops were able to advance as far as 10 kilometers (6 miles) deep during their offensive in Kharkiv Oblast, but the front in the region has been stabilized.

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