Nearly 10,000 Evacuated in Ukraine’s Kharkiv Region

KYIV – Nearly 10,000 residents have been forced to flee their homes in Ukraine’s north-eastern Kharkiv region following a ground assault by Russian forces that began on May 10, the region’s governor reported on May 18.

Governor Oleg Synegubov stated that “a total of 9,907 people have been evacuated,” as the offensive, described as potentially the first wave of a larger attack, continues. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky indicated to AFP that the assault might precede additional waves.

Russian forces advanced between 5km and 10km along the north-eastern border before being halted by Ukrainian defenders. Governor Synegubov noted that Ukraine’s armed forces had successfully repelled two attempts to breach their defenses overnight.

The situation is currently “under control,” with Ukrainian defenders conducting assault and combing operations in specific areas. The city of Vovchansk, located just 5km from the border, is one of the key areas under attack. “In the area of the city of Vovchansk, Ukrainian troops are reinforcing their defense,” Synegubov said, noting that only about 100 people remain in the city amidst the heavy fighting.

Between May 9 and 15, Russian forces captured 278 sq km, marking their largest territorial gains since the end of 2022, according to data from the Institute for the Study of War and calculations by AFP.

President Zelensky acknowledged Russia’s recent territorial gains, emphasizing the need to be realistic about the situation. “We have to be sober and understand that they are going deeper into our territory. Not vice versa. And that’s still their advantage,” he said.

During a visit to China on May 17, President Vladimir Putin stated that the offensive was a response to Ukraine shelling Russian border regions.