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Zelensky: Kharkiv not safe enough for residents to return

by Rachel Amran March 2, 2024 1:04 AM 2 min read
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at a press conference in Kharkiv on March 1, 2024. (Ukrainska Pravda) 
This audio is created with AI assistance

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Kharkiv is not yet safe enough for residents to return to the city, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said at a press conference with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on March 1.

"As for the return of Kharkiv residents: you see, I don't think Kharkiv is so protected at the moment that I can advise people to return," Zelensky stated. "This is the choice of Kharkiv residents."

Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, is located in the east of the country, just about 30 kilometers from the Russian border. Due to its proximity to the border with Russia, Kharkiv Oblast and the regional capital have faced near-daily attacks since the start of the full-scale invasion. Part of the region was also occupied in early February 2022 before its liberation in early September.  

Last month, a Russian drone struck a gas station in Kharkiv, creating a large fire that engulfed 15 residential homes and killed at least seven people, including three children.

President Zelensky said today that Ukraine's military must not only strengthen air defense in the region but also work to push Russian troops further away from the cities to bring security back to Kharkiv.  

"Otherwise, it will be very difficult to fully defend Kharkiv, even if we reinforce it with appropriate modern air defense systems. We are looking for opportunities to strengthen Kharkiv's air defense in any case. This is our task today."

More than 20,000 buildings have been destroyed in Kharkiv since Feb. 24, 2022, according to Ukrainian government figures.

‘Who are they fighting, children?’ Family of 5 killed in devastating Russian attack on Kharkiv
Editor’s Note: This story contains descriptions of graphic scenes. Yuliia Solomko couldn’t fall asleep late on the night of Feb. 9. Kharkiv, her hometown, was under yet another heavy Russian attack. Worse, she could hear explosions coming from the neighborhood where her best friend and her family…

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FT: Russia may be gearing up for large-scale offensive against Ukraine.

Russian forces may be preparing for a large-scale offensive in late spring or summer, aiming to capture more land in Ukraine's partially-occupied Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia oblasts, the Financial Times reported on April 13, citing unnamed Ukrainian and Western officials.
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