Home News Russia launches attack on northeastern Ukraine, seeks border buffer zone

Russia launches attack on northeastern Ukraine, seeks border buffer zone

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Russian troops continued their advance into northeastern Ukraine on Saturday, closing in on a village about 10 miles outside Kharkiv, raising concerns that Ukraine’s second-largest city could soon be within range of Russian artillery fire.

ukraine army say saturday Russian troops attempted to break through defenses near the village of Liptsi, just north of Kharkov.The attack was said to have been repelled, but map of battlefield An analysis of public videos of the fighting by independent groups found that Russian troops had almost reached the outskirts of the village.

Ukrainian Khartia Brigade defending Liptsi, Posted a video Telegram reports on Friday afternoon said Russian soldiers were advancing on the village on foot and attacking in small groups between tree lines. The brigade said it targeted the Russians with rockets, forcing them to retreat.

russian army Opening a new front in northeastern Ukraine They crossed the border a week ago and quickly seized about 10 settlements, a move that Ukrainian officials and military analysts said was an effort to expand Ukraine’s already outnumbered forces.

The Khartia Brigade, for example, was redeployed from another hotspot on the front line, around the southeastern village of Ocheretyne.Russian troops captured Ocheretain last month Breaking through Ukrainian defenses.

But experts say another, perhaps more immediate, goal for Russia could be to penetrate deep into Ukrainian territory to push Kiev troops away from the border and create a buffer zone that would prevent Ukrainians from targeting Russian towns with artillery.President Vladimir V. Putin Friday said This is the goal of the current offensive.

The buffer zone could also allow the Russians to get close enough to Kharkov to bombard it with artillery shells, thereby escalating the situation Moscow’s campaign brings misery to city residents Cut off electricity by attacking residential areas with air strikes and targeting their power stations.

“Such a 10- to 15-kilometer buffer zone will definitely cause problems in Kharkiv,” said Mykola Bielieskov, a military analyst at Ukraine’s government-run National Institute for Strategic Studies.

Further Russian advances would return the city of Kharkiv, which currently has a population of about 1.2 million, to the conditions it faced in the early months of the war. In 2022, Russian troops reached the city’s outer ring, causing hundreds of thousands of people to flee.

Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said Russia’s advance on the city was aimed at causing chaos and panic.but he Repeat this week There are no plans to evacuate residents. Instead, the city became a temporary home for thousands of Ukrainian civilians who fled fighting in the region from villages such as Liptsi or Wovchansk further east.

However, Kharkov is not completely safe. In recent months, Russia has increasingly targeted the city with powerful guided missiles known as glide bombs, which can fire hundreds of tons of explosives, and S-300 anti-aircraft missiles, which Moscow is now using to attack ground targets.

“It only takes a few minutes for the S-300 missiles to reach Kharkiv,” Ilya Yevlash, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force, said in an interview this month. “There is no time to react to these threats.”

Yevlash said that only the U.S.-made Patriot air defense system can intercept short-range S-300 missiles, and Ukraine does not have adequate air defense systems. “We can count them on the fingers of one hand,” he said.

Ukrainian officials have urged Western partners to send more supplies. “We desperately need air defense systems to protect Kharkiv” and other areas in northeastern Ukraine, Andrei Yermak, chief of staff to President Volodymy Zelensky, told The New York Times this week. City. “it’s time.”

Putin said on Friday that Russian troops had no plans to capture the city. Military experts also said Russia lacks the power to conduct such operations.

However, getting close to Kharkov is not an easy task.

So far, Russian forces have broken through sparsely populated and weakly defended areas. Entering Lupusi, which had a pre-war population of 4,000 and was dotted with houses and buildings, would force the Russian army to engage in more difficult street fighting.

Analyst Emil Kastehelmi of the Finnish Blackbird Group analyzed satellite images and battlefield footage. Noted on social platform X “A long string of villages” separate Liptsi and Kharkov. Pushing forward one by one, he said, “will force the Russians to fight within more than 17 kilometers of built-up areas.”

Martina Steeves Gridnev Reporting from Brussels.

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