Dire Warning Issued

(TheIndependentStar.com) – In a new dire warning that its situation is deteriorating, embattled pro-Western nation Ukraine has raised alarm after Putin’s Russia launched a new offensive, this time in the northeast, by targeting the region of Kharkiv, the second largest Ukrainian city.

Russia said Sunday it had captured four more villages in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region and thousands of residents were evacuated from the surprise ground offensive and a key border town came under intensive shelling.

Russia’s defense ministry announced the new gains a day after claiming that five villages had been seized in the region in a part of Ukraine from where Russian troops had been pushed back nearly two years ago, AFP reports.

The ministry said its forces had “advanced deeply into the enemy defenses” and taken villages including Gatishche, Krasnoye, Morokhovets and Oleinikovo. But the Ukrainian army said it was managing to hold back further Russian advances.

At an evacuation point near the front line in Kharkiv region, AFP reporters on Sunday saw groups of people who had been evacuated from around the town of Vovchansk, most of them elderly and disoriented.

“We weren’t going to leave. Home is home,” said 72-year-old Lyuda Zelenskaya, hugging a trembling cat named Zhora.

Liuba Konovalova, 70, said she had endured a “really terrifying” night before her evacuation.

Around them, volunteers assisted evacuees towards a few wooden benches where they registered and received food before being evacuated toward Kharkiv, the regional capital.

“In total, 4,073 people have been evacuated,” Kharkiv regional governor Oleg Synegubov wrote on social media.

Ukraine has reported several civilians killed in the offensive. Synegubov said the latest casualty — a 63-year-old man — was killed by artillery fire in the village of Glyboke.

“Everything in the city is being destroyed… You hear constant explosions, artillery, mortars. The enemy is hitting the city with everything they have,” he said.

Kharkivsky estimated that around 1,500 people had been evacuated or fled Vovchansk since Friday and there had been 32 drone strikes on the town over the past 24 hours,” Oleksiy Kharkivsky, a senior police officer, said.

The Ukrainian army said its defenses were holding.

“Russian occupants’ attempts to break through our defense have been stopped,” said Ukraine’s commander-in-chief Oleksandr Syrsky.

He added the situation in Kharkiv region had “deteriorated significantly” and was “complicated”.

Ukrainian forces “are doing everything they can to hold their defensive lines and positions and inflict damage on the enemy.” Syrsky declared.

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