Russia has claimed to have captured five border villages in Kharkiv during the latest offensive.


Russia's military has claimed to have captured five villages in the Kharkiv region on the border with Ukraine in a new operation, while Ukrainian officials said they were repelling attacks and ” The fight is on.”

Russia launched its surprise cross-border offensive on Friday, carrying out two strikes inside northern Ukraine on Friday, in what President Volodymyr Zelensky called a “new wave of retaliation” by Russia.

The exact motive is unclear, but Moscow may be trying to create a buffer zone to slow Ukrainian attacks on Russian soil or distract Kiev's already thinned-out forces.

Russia's Defense Ministry claimed in a statement that a new military group called Sever (Northern) had “liberated” several villages, words that reflect Russia's denial of Ukrainian statehood.

“As a result of the offensive operations, units of the Sever Group of Forces have liberated Borysukka, Ogertsovo, Platnefika, Pilnaya and Strelichia,” the statement said, adding that Russian troops had destroyed Keramk in the Donetsk region. Also captured the village, further south.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces said they continued to push back Russian offensives while evacuating hundreds of Ukrainian civilians from the northern Kharkiv region.

Ukraine's Oleh Sinihobov, head of the Kharkiv regional military administration, denied in a statement on Saturday that five villages in the Kharkiv region had been captured.

“Heavy fighting is going on in Strelicha, Palina, Borysivka in Olynykovo and Ohritsiv region. Fighting is going on in the area of ​​settlements that were actually in the 'grey zone'.” […] There is no risk of ground operations for Kharkiv. Defense forces are trying their best to hold their positions. All government institutions are working at ground level,” Syniehubov said.

The gray zone represents territory not currently under full Russian or Ukrainian control.

At least three people were killed in Russian attacks on the Kharkiv region overnight, according to the head of the region's military administration.

Russia's recent efforts are largely concentrated in the east, where it has taken advantage of Ukraine's lack of manpower and weapons to make small advances. Its forces invaded the Kharkiv region in 2022 after a full-scale offensive began, but were forced into a Ukrainian counteroffensive later that year.

In a separate development, a fire briefly broke out at the Volgograd oil refinery, the largest oil refinery in southern Russia, after a Ukrainian drone strike late Sunday night, according to the region's governor.

“On the night of May 12, air defense and electronic warfare units repelled a UAV attack in the Volgograd region,” Andrey Bucharov said in a post on Telegram.

“As a result of the crash of the UAV with a subsequent explosion, a fire broke out at the Volgograd refinery site,” he said.

He said that the fire has been brought under control and there was no loss of life.

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