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Ukraine war latest: Syrskyi says Russia is 'completely bogged down' in Vovchansk street fighting

by The Kyiv Independent news desk May 23, 2024 10:18 PM 7 min read
Heavily damaged buildings stand in the city of Vovchansk, Kharkiv Oblast, on May 20, 2024. (Libkos/Getty Images)
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Key updates on May 23:

  • Syrskyi: Russia 'completely bogged down' in Vovchansk street fighting, deploys reserves
  • Ukraine's military intelligence confirms drone attack on Russia's Tatarstan Republic
  • Russian attack on Kharkiv kills 7, injures 21
  • Ukraine downs another Russian Su-25 fighter jet in second shootdown reported in one day
  • Norway announces new $190 million package of military assistance for Ukraine

Russian troops are "completely bogged down" in street battles for the town of Vovchansk in Kharkiv Oblast, having suffered "very heavy losses," Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine's Armed Forces Oleksandr Syrskyi said on May 23.

Russia launched a new offensive on May 10 in northern Kharkiv Oblast. Moscow's forces had managed to advance as far as 10 kilometers (6 miles) into the region but had been halted by the first line of defense, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on May 16.

Russian troops are now deploying their reserves from different sectors, but fail to support active assault operations in the region, Syrskyi said.

Russia also switched to active defense near the village of Lyptsi, where its forces are mining the surrounding area and striking at Ukrainian soldiers' positions, according to the general.

Fighting is reportedly ongoing also in a forest area north of the city of Kupiansk in Kharkiv Oblast.

"The situation is difficult in the area of Kyslivka, where the enemy is trying to break through our defense and reach the Oskil River," Syrskyi said.

The general described the fighting in the Pokrovsk and Kurakhove sectors as "the most intense and fierce."

Russian troops are reportedly trying to break through the defense of Ukrainian troops on a narrow section of the front between the settlements of Staromykhailivka and Berdychi.

Intense fighting is also taking place near the village of Ivanivske and the town of Chasiv Yar in Donetsk Oblast, Syrskyi said. Russian forces are trying to "cling to the town at any cost," using modern equipment, he added.

Russia's offensive in Kharkiv Oblast in mid-May could be the first of several waves, and Russian forces may target the regional capital, Kharkiv, President Volodymyr Zelensky said.

Governor: Around 100 civilians remain in Vovchansk, Russians have threatened to shoot them
Kharkiv Oblast Governor Oleh Syniehubov said on May 20 that more than 10,500 civilians had been evacuated from Kharkiv Oblast amid the renewed Russian onslaught.

Ukraine's military intelligence confirms drone attack on Russia's Tatarstan Republic

Ukraine's military intelligence agency confirmed to the Kyiv Independent that it was behind a drone attack targeting Russian military facilities in Russia's Tatarstan Republic on May 23.

A source from the agency said the drones had reached the cities of Nizhnekamsk and Kazan, but did not specify the extent of the damage caused.

The Russian Defense Ministry claimed earlier in the day that air defenses had shot down a Ukrainian drone in the area.

Russian Telegram channels shared videos showing a drone-like aerial vehicle above Nizhnekamsk and rising smoke.

Russia's Federal Air Transport Agency said that restrictions had been imposed on the departure and arrival of planes at Nizhnekamsk and Kazan airports around that time.

Rustem Nuriev, the mayor of the town of Yelabuga, claimed that a drone was downed in the Yelabuga disctrict. Yelabuga lies some 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) from the Russia-Ukraine border. No casualties or damages were reported.

Ukrainian forces struck production facilities in Tatarstan's Yelabuga and Nizhnekamsk for the first time on April 2, Ukraine's military intelligence agency (HUR) reported. The targets were an oil refinery and a manufacturing facility for the Shahed-type attack drones, which Russia regularly uses in attacks against Ukraine.

Soon after, on April 17, a factory in Tatarstan producing bomber aircraft for the Russian military was also attacked by Ukrainian drones, Ukraine's military intelligence (HUR) source told the Kyiv Independent.

How Ukraine hit a Russian drone factory 1,300 kilometers away
For the first time since the start of the full-scale invasion, Ukraine attacked facilities in Russia’s Tatarstan Republic, some 1,300 kilometers from the country’s border. On April 2, overnight, drones attacked production facilities in the cities of Yelabuga and Nizhnekamsk, Tatarstan Head Rustam M…

Russian attack on Kharkiv kills 7, injures 21

Russian forces launched attacks against Kharkiv Oblast on May 23, killing at least seven people in Kharkiv and injuring at least 21, as well as at least 11 elsewhere in the oblast, as reported by local officials and a Kyiv Independent reporter.

Kharkiv and other regional settlements have suffered increasingly intense strikes since Russia launched a new offensive in the oblast on May 10.

The Kyiv Independent journalist reported several explosions in Kharkiv at 10:30 a.m. local time. Governor Oleh Syniehubov and Mayor Ihor Terekhov said that around 10 blasts could be heard in the city.

The attacks targeted transportation infrastructure in the Kholodnohirskyi district and a building of a communal services company, the mayor said.

A printing shop in Kharkiv's Osnovianskyi district suffered a direct hit, resulting in a fire, the governor said, adding that more than 50 employees were inside during the attack. The shop reportedly belonged to the Faktor Druk printing house.

The seven people who were killed were the shop's employees, including five women and one man, Syniehubov said on Telegram, adding that information about the seventh victim is still being clarified.

They were "in the very epicenter" of that strike, Syniehubov told reporters in a briefing attended by the Kyiv Independent journalist.

Russian forces carried out 15 strikes against Kharkiv and the Kharkiv district, probably with S-300 missiles, the regional prosecutor's office spokesperson, Dmytro Chubenko, told Suspilne.

Oleksandr Filchakov, the head of the regional prosecutor's office, confirmed for the Kyiv Independent that Russia attacked the city with S-300 missiles.

At least two people were injured in Zolochiv, a village around 35 kilometers (over 20 miles) north of Kharkiv, and at least seven others in Liubotyn, a town some 15 kilometers (9 miles) west of the regional center, according to officials.

In Liubotyn, S-300 missiles hit the area of the railway station, Chubenko said. A park, cars, and shops were also damaged, according to the Prosecutor General's Office.

Zolochiv was hit by guided aerial bombs, dealing damage to a local kindergarten, Syniehubov reported.

Ukrainian Railways reported that six of their workers had been injured in attacks against Kharkiv Oblast, and several of their facilities were hit both in Kharkiv and elsewhere.

Around four hours after the initial attack, Russia carried out two aerial strikes with KAB bombs against Kharkiv and a nearby town of Derhachi, Syniehubov reported.

Two people – a man and a woman – were injured in Derhachi and hospitalized, local authorities said. Four other people suffered from shock.

Russia’s latest offensive into Kharkiv Oblast is stretching Ukrainian defenses
Russia’s two-pronged assault in Kharkiv Oblast that began on May 10 is exploiting Ukraine’s troop shortage, forcing it to make difficult decisions about where to commit reserves. Two weeks into the offensive, one group of Russian forces is already fighting in the streets of the town of Vovchansk

Ukraine downs another Russian Su-25 fighter jet in second shootdown reported in one day

Ukraine's 110th Mechanized Brigade said it shot down a Russian Su-25 jet on May 23, making it the second downing of a Russian plane reported on that day.

It is reportedly the sixth Russian Su-25 jet that Ukraine has shot down this month.

The 110th Mechanized Brigade said it was downed in Donbas but did not specify exactly where. Donbas is an industrial region in the east of Ukraine that comprises Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. Russia currently controls most of both regions.

The Soviet-designed Su-25, nicknamed "Frogfoot" by NATO, is a heavily armored ground-attack aircraft that provides close air support for Russian ground troops.

Ukraine previously claimed that it destroyed Su-25s on May 4, May 11, May 13, and May 18.

The General Staff reported on another Su-25 shot down earlier during the day.

The General Staff said on May 23 that Russia has lost over 350 planes since the launch of the full-scale invasion.

The Kyiv Independent could not independently verify these figures.

48 hours in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s most-bombed major city
The first signs that something ominous is happening in Kharkiv come as soon as the train from Kyiv reaches the suburbs of the city – as two pillars of smoke appear in the distance, every single phone in the carriage erupts with a piercing electronic squawking. “I guess we’ve arrived,

Norway announces new $190 million package of military assistance for Ukraine

Norway announced a new package of military assistance for Ukraine on May 23 worth around 150 million British pounds ($190 million).

The package is under the auspices of the International Fund for Ukraine (IFU), which is collectively financed by the U.K., the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Lithuania, and Iceland. The support will go toward air defense, naval capabilities, radar, anti-drone systems, and boats.

"We stand with and support Ukraine as long as necessary," said Defense Minister Bjorn Arild Gram.

"(Ukrainians) have an urgent need for more weapons and military equipment. Support through international funds is one of many important contributions."

Norway has recently ramped up efforts to increase defense production, both for domestic needs and for aid to Ukraine. Oslo allocated 2 billion Norwegian kroner ($190 million) in January for Ukrainian aid.

According to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel), which tracks international aid for Ukraine, Norway has committed more than $2 billion to Ukraine as of February 2024.

Norway to further restrict entry for Russian tourists
Russian citizens arriving in Norway for tourism and “other non-essential travel” will be rejected upon entry across the external border from May 29, the Norwegian government said. Exceptions will be granted in certain cases.
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