Russia renews attempts to break through Ukrainian defences in Kharkiv


Ukraine says it anticipated the renewed offensive, with thousands more Russian troops already massed along the north-eastern border.


Russia has renewed its efforts to break through Ukrainian defences in the north-eastern Kharkiv region, according to Ukrainian authorities.

The Ukrainian armed forces rushed reinforcements to Kharkiv on Friday to hold off a Russian attempt to breach local defences, while intense shelling targeted the Ukrainian city of Vovchansk, which is less than five kilometres from the Russian border.

The shelling killed at least one civilian and wounded five others, according to regional governor Oleh Syniehubov. Authorities began evacuating about 3,000 people following the attack.

At around dawn, Russian infantry launched an assault near the city. They were repelled by reserve units which had been deployed to fend off the attack, said the Ukrainian Defence Ministry.

“The entire town is under massive shelling now,” the administrative head of Vovchansk, Tamaz Hambarishvilim, told local radio. “It is not safe to stay here.” 

Ukrainian officials said they had been expecting the tactical switch by Moscow for weeks.

Ukraine had previously said it was aware Russia was marshalling thousands of troops along the border near the Kharkiv and Sumy regions.

Though Russia’s recent ground offensives had been focused further south, Ukrainian intelligence officials said they had anticipated an attack in the north-east.

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