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Ukraine: “difficult” situation in the northeast, kyiv accuses Russia of abuses against civilians

Ukraine claimedé Thursday to curb the Russian military advance in the northeast of the country, but the situation there remains "extremely difficult" according to President Volodymyr Zelensky, Moscow is leading an offensive there which has enabled it to reap its largest territorial gains since the end of 2022.

According to a senior NATO military official, however, Russian forces “do not have the necessary forces to achieve a strategic breakthrough”.

“They have neither the skills nor the capacity to do it,” said the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, American General Christopher Cavoli, on Thursday evening.

The Ukrainian authorities have also accused the Russian army of having executed at least one Ukrainian civilian and of using around forty others as “human shields” in Vovtchansk, a town in the Kharkiv region (north-east) and target of an assault by Russian troops who have conquered, according to AFP estimates, nearly 260 km2 in one week.

Ukraine: “difficult” situation in the northeast, kyiv accuses Russia of abuses against civilians

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (r) rewards a soldier during his visit to Kharkiv, May 16, 2024 © Press service of the Ukrainian presidency – Handout

President Volodymyr Zelensky traveled to Kharkiv, the regional capital and second city in the country, on Thursday for a meeting of his military cabinet.

“To date, the situation (…) is generally under control, our soldiers are inflicting significant losses on the occupier,” declared Mr. Zelensky.

“But the area remains extremely difficult, which is why we are strengthening our units,” he added.

Regional Governor Oleg Synegubov indicated that the “enemy” was still advancing in the area of ​​the locality of Lyptsi and that the Russians continued to try “to take Vovchansk “.

Ukraine: “difficult” situation in the northeast, kyiv accuses Russia of abuses against civilians

Ukraine: new movements from the front line © AFP – Valentin RAKOVSKY, Valentina BRESCHI

“We cannot say that our soldiers have managed to stabilize the front line”, he admitted while estimating that the “active” phase of the opposing advance “has been stopped “.

In the morning, the army said it had managed to “partially stabilize the situation” and stop Russian advances in “certain” sectors.

Interior Minister Igor Klymenko accused Russia of carrying out arbitrary detentions of civilians and at least one summary execution in Vovchansk, a city of 18,000 inhabitants before the war.

– “Human Shield” –

Later in the day, police in the region clarified the accusations, saying the Russian army was detaining 35 to 40 civilians, using them as “human shields” to protect a military headquarters.

An elderly resident who tried to escape on foot into Ukrainian-controlled territory was shot in the head, according to the same source.

AFP is unable to confirm these accusations from an independent source. Russia did not immediately react.

Ukraine: “difficult” situation in the northeast, kyiv accuses Russia of abuses against civilians

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (L) greets a wounded soldier at a hospital in Kharkiv, May 16, 2024. © Press service of the Ukrainian presidency – Handout

Russian forces have been accused of numerous documented abuses in Ukraine, in particular the massacre of hundreds of civilians in Bucha, a suburb of kyiv that they occupied at the start of their invasion in 2022. < /p>

Russia launched a new land offensive against the Kharkiv region on May 10, penetrating from the north into two border sectors, those of Vovtchansk and Lukiantsi, localities located respectively one fifty and thirty kilometers from the city of Kharkiv.

The head of the military administration of Vovchansk, Tamaz Gambarashvili, was injured on Thursday during a strike on a nearby village, the regional governor said. Five other men were wounded, including two doctors.

Between May 9 and 15, the Russians conquered 257 km2 in the Kharkiv region alone, according to an analysis Thursday from AFP based on data provided by the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

– Incessant shooting –

According to the emergency services, 8,800 people have been evacuated in recent days. In the city of Kharkiv, people evacuated from Vovchansk continue to arrive at a humanitarian center.

Among them, Nadia Borodina, 85 years old, traditional red scarf on her head, her dog on a leash and her cat in a plastic bag.

Ukraine: “difficult” situation in the northeast, kyiv accuses Russia of abuses against civilians

Residents who fled different areas of the Kharkiv region wait to be registered at an evacuation point, May 14, 2024 in Kharkiv, northeastern Ukraine © AFP – Roman PILIPEY

She waited three days to be evacuated, with little food and no means of communication.

“The soldiers arrived and shouted +Let’s go, let’s go! + and we left in five minutes,” the old lady told AFP. “I lived through the Second World War but today it’s even scarier!”

The Russian assault exploits the weakening of the Ukrainian forces in recent months, kyiv lacking men, but also weapons and ammunition due to delays in Western military aid.

In the Ukrainian city of Donetsk, occupied by Russian forces since 2014, four women were also killed Thursday evening by Ukrainian strikes near a bus stop, announced the pro-Russian authorities.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116