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Russia claims capture of five villages in Ukraine's Kharkiv Oblast

by Chris York and The Kyiv Independent news desk May 11, 2024 3:47 PM 2 min read
Soldiers from the Ukrainian 57th Brigade are waiting on firing positions in the direction of Kupiansk, Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine on April 12, 2024. (Wojciech Grzedzinski/Anadolu via Getty Images)
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Moscow's Defense Ministry on May 11 said its forces had taken control of five Ukrainian villages in Kharkiv Oblast near the border with Russia.

In a briefing, it said Russian troops were now in control of Pletenivka, Ohirtseve, Borysivka, Pylna and Strilecha, Reuters reports.

Ukraine's Defense Ministry reported on May 10 that Russian forces launched an attempt to break through in Kharkiv Oblast.

Kyiv Independent could not verify the Russian Defense Ministry's claims but on May 11, Nazar Voloshyn, the spokesperson of the Khortytsia group of forces, said Moscow's troops were being held back in the so-called "gray zone" and had not advanced.

Kharkiv Governor Oleh Syniehubov speaking to journalists on May 11 said the situation was "fully controlled" and fighting was ongoing in four of the five villages claimed by Moscow – Strilecha, Pylna, Borysivka and Ohirtseve.

As fighting continues, it remains to be seen if the Russian offensive is a limited action or the prelude to a larger attack on the city of Kharkiv itself.

On May 10, U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said the White House had assessed the latter was a possibility.

"It is certainly possible that the Russians are setting themselves up for a larger assault on Kharkiv," Kirby said, citing signs that Russia appears to be preparing to use long-range fire within the range of the city.

Kirby also said that Russia may achieve some advances in the coming weeks, but breakthroughs are unlikely as the influx of U.S. assistance will help Ukraine withstand the attacks, AFP reported.

Washington "is working around the clock" to provide Ukraine with defense supplies, Kirby added.

Over the past day, 1,775 civilians in Kharkiv Oblast have been evacuated from their homes amid renewed Russian attacks on the region, Governor Oleh Syniehubov reported on May 11.

Russian forces failed to take Kharkiv in the first weeks of the full-scale invasion despite the fact that the city lies less than 30 kilometers from the Russian border.

Russia "would need years" to occupy Kharkiv, Oleksandr Pivnenko, the commander of Ukraine's National Guard, said amid the looming threat of renewed attack.

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