Ukraine said more than 30,000 Russian soldiers attacked Kharkov

Ukraine said that its army is having to deal with about 30,000 Russian troops in the border area near Kharkov. Ukraine has mobilized reserve units to reinforce Kharkov.

In an interview with AFP on May 13, Secretary of the National Defense and Security Council of Ukraine Oleksandr Lytvynenko said that Russia is using 30,000 of the 50,000 soldiers gathered at the border to attack Kharkov, eastern province—of northern Ukraine.

Russia began attacking Kharkov again on May 10, opening a new front after nearly 2 years. Ukrainian officials admit that Russia has achieved some tactical successes, while Russia claims to control 9 villages here.

It is currently unclear the scale and goals of Russia when attacking Kharkov again.

However, the US-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said that with its current scale, it is difficult for Russia to besiege or completely control Kharkov, Ukraine’s second-largest city.

Military analysts said they believed the attack could be part of a Russian strategy, not necessarily to open a new line of attack into Kharkov but to draw Ukrainian forces away from other battlefields where The Ukrainian army was already exhausted and stretched thin.

According to ISW, Russia’s main goal seems to be to force Ukraine to withdraw forces from the Eastern front here in the context of Moscow only making very slow progress in Donbass.

ISW believes that Russia is trying to create a “buffer zone” instead of entering Kharkov.

ISW analyzed that the relatively rapid advance of Russian forces in the town of Vovchansk and their destruction of a number of bridges across important waterways here shows that Russian forces are prioritizing creating a “buffer zone” rather than deeper penetration.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said yesterday that the army had mobilized additional reserve forces to Kharkov as Russia continued its attacks on this area. Mr. Zelensky affirmed that the soldiers are provided with all the necessary firepower and equipment.

“We are destroying enemy infantry and armored vehicles. We also clearly see the enemy’s actions and intentions are to spread our forces thin,” Mr. Zelensky said.

Previously, Kharkov Governor Oleh Syniehubov also said: “Russia is trying to stretch the front line, attacking with small groups but in new directions. The situation is extremely difficult.”

“The coming weeks could be grim times for Ukraine’s ground forces in the East,” said Mick Ryan, a retired Australian general and member of the Lowy Institute. The current attack is relatively small in scale, but the aim is to reduce the morale of the Ukrainian people both militarily and civilly.”

According to him, if Ukraine decides to maintain its position at all costs, it will lose more of its forces, which are increasingly shrinking in size. The outcome of this war, he said, could be a “serious test” and “one of the most difficult moments for Ukraine so far”.

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