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Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy attends a joint press conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine, April 29, 2024 (Photo by Maxym Marusenko/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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Russian troops are trying to "gain a foothold" in some villages in Kharkiv Oblast, and heavy fighting is ongoing in the region, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his evening address on May 12.

His statement comes as Russia launched a new offensive operation targeting Kharkiv Oblast on May 10.

Zelensky said the situation is "extremely difficult" on the outskirts of Vovchansk, a city in Kharkiv Oblast close to the Russian border.

"The city is under constant Russian fire, and our military is carrying out counterattacks, helping local residents," Zelensky said.

Earlier in the day, Commander-in-Chief Oleksandr Syrskyi described the situation in Kharkiv Oblast as "difficult," saying that Ukrainian troops are fighting in the border areas and "are doing everything to hold their defensive lines and positions."

"Our task is obvious – we need to inflict as many losses as possible on the occupiers," said Zelensky.

He also reported that the situation in Donetsk Oblast is "no less intense," adding that "the idea behind the attacks in Kharkiv Oblast is to spread our forces thin and undermine the Ukrainians' morale."

According to Zelensky, the most difficult situation is in the direction of the town of Pokrovsk in Donetsk Oblast.

Apart from that, the situation remains difficult in the Lyman, Vremivka, Kramatorsk, and Kupiansk directions, the president said.  

"Our warriors are adequately retaliating against the occupiers and doing everything possible, and often impossible, to deter Russian assaults," Zelensky said.

Russian forces failed to take Kharkiv in the first weeks of the full-scale invasion in 2022 despite the fact the city lies less than 30 kilometers from the Russian border.

Ukraine war latest: Russia launches new offensive targeting Kharkiv Oblast
President Volodymyr Zelensky announced on May 10 that Russian forces had begun a new offensive operation targeting Kharkiv Oblast. “Now, there is a fierce battle going on in (Kharkiv’s) direction,” Zelensky said.
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