Ukraine warns northern front has ‘significantly worsened’ as Russia claims capture of several villages

May 13, 2024, 5:40 AM

The Russian Defense Ministry is pictured March 1, 2023, in Moscow, Russia. Ukraine warned the situa...

The Russian Defense Ministry is pictured March 1, 2023, in Moscow, Russia. Ukraine warned the situation in the northern Kharkiv region has “significantly worsened” after Russia claimed to have captured several villages in a surprise cross-border offensive. Mandatory Credit: Getty Images via CNN Newsource

(CNN) — Ukraine’s top general says the situation in the northern Kharkiv region has “significantly worsened” after Russia claimed to have captured four further villages as it expanded its surprise cross-border offensive.

A Ukrainian regional official insisted Russia’s progress was not yet “significant” but admitted ground fighting in the area was spreading. Meanwhile, speaking on British television, UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron acknowledged it was an “extremely dangerous moment,” adding that Russia had effectively “invaded [Ukraine] again.”

The precise goal of Russia’s new push – which began in the early hours of Friday morning – is unclear. It may be to create a buffer zone designed to reduce Ukrainian attacks on Russian territory, or possibly even a renewed assault on the city of Kharkiv, 30 kilometers (18 miles) to the south.

Equally, it could be an attempt to draw Ukrainian forces away from other key Russian objectives further south – which was the rationale Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky offered in his Sunday evening address.

“The idea behind the attacks in Kharkiv region is to stretch our forces and undermine morale and the motivational foundations of Ukrainians’ ability to defend ourselves,” he said.

According to information from the Defense Ministry in Moscow, Russia now claims control over nine Ukrainian border villages, which are clustered in two areas, now just a few dozen kilometers apart, to the northeast of Kharkiv city.

A Ukrainian military blogger, Myroshnykov, said Sunday afternoon that Russian troops had now pushed south and entered the town of Vovchansk, though the pace of advance there had slowed in the face of Ukraine’s defending forces.

Myroshnykov went on to predict an attempt by Russia to make its numerical advantage count and throw large numbers of infantry soldiers into the battle.

“They will try to seize the area with a lot of cannon fodder,” he wrote on his Telegram channel, referencing previous Russian offensives which reports suggest have resulted in many Russian troops killed.

A Ukrainian military spokesman later denied reports Russian forces were inside Vovchansk, saying Ukraine’s armed forces had succeeded in keeping them at bay. Ahead of any stepped-up Russian actions, Ukrainian officials have been evacuating hundreds of local residents to safety.

An idea of the destruction being wrought on the town and surrounding villages came from regional Ukrainian leader, Oleh Syniehubov, who said Saturday that Russia had dropped more than 20 huge glide bombs on the area in under two days.

These bombs have a minimum weight of 250 kgs, but can go up to 1,500 kgs, and are among the most destructive mass-produced devices currently used by Russia in the war. They have previously been used as a precursor to a major attempt to seize ground.

Oleksandr Syrskyi, Ukraine’s army chief, told readers of his social media channels on Sunday that defensive operations were ongoing and that battlefield conditions were difficult.

“This week, the situation in Kharkiv Oblast has significantly worsened. Currently, there are ongoing battles in the border areas along the state border with the Russian Federation,” he wrote on Telegram.

Syniehubov, the head of the Kharkiv Regional Military Administration, insisted control over the border villages was still contested rather than ceded, however the influential DeepStateMap group – a Ukrainian organisation monitoring developments on the battlefield – showed seven Ukrainian villages under either full or partial Russian control.

So far, Russian gains are not sufficient to put its big artillery pieces within range of Kharkiv city, but residents there admit the situation is frightening.

One woman, Anna Ivanova, speaking to Reuters, said: “Of course it is scary, we keep on monitoring the situation, following the news but we remain home and are not planning to go anywhere. All depends on what happens.”

Another Kharkiv resident, Olena Pidhirna, said: “Despite all those attacks, air raid alarms, we live normal lives, everyone keeps going out, playing, going to school, enjoying themselves, working. Life goes on, as normal.”

It is not just in Ukraine’s north that Kyiv’s armed forces are losing ground.

DeepStateMap also shows Russia making further gains in two other key areas, most notably towards the town of Chasiv Yar, which has become an important forward military position, and further south in the industrial town of Krasnohorivka, where Russian troops are now in control of the town’s main facility, a brick factory.

Meanwhile, Russian authorities say eight people are known to have died in an explosion in a residential building in Belgorod. CCTV video of the blast shows a huge plume of dark grey smoke emerging from one of the building’s lower floors, before part of the building collapses on itself.

Russian television later broadcast video of rescuers at work looking for survivors among the rubble. Russian officials said the blast was caused by a Ukrainian missile attack.

And in a separate development, a fire briefly broke out at the Volgograd oil refinery, the largest oil refinery in southern Russia, after a Ukrainian drone attack overnight into Sunday, according to the region’s governor.

“On the night of May 12, air defense and electronic warfare forces repelled a UAV attack on the territory of the Volgograd region,” Andrey Bocharov said in a post on Telegram.

“As a result of the consequences of a UAV crash with subsequent detonation, a fire broke out at the Volgograd Refinery site,” he said.

The fire has been extinguished and there were no casualties, he said.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

World News

stacked boxes in a warehouse...

Shelby Lofton

Brazilian women living in Utah need help transporting donations to Florida

Two Utah women who have gathered three warehouses full of donations for Brazil flooding victims are in need of help.

4 hours ago

This undated photo taken by Colombia's Anthropology and History Institute shows sunken remains from...

Heather Chen and Michael Rios, CNN

Colombia launches expedition to explore 300-year-old Spanish shipwreck filled with sunken treasure

Colombia has launched an underwater expedition to explore a Spanish warship that sank in the Caribbean 300 years ago.

10 hours ago

Security forces stand around a stage that collapsed due to a gust of wind during an event attended ...

Michael Rios, Mia Alberti and Fidel Gutierrez and Ivana Kottasová

9 dead, 54 injured as wind causes stage collapse at Mexico election rally

Nine people were killed and a presidential candidate was briefly taken to hospital after a stage collapsed under heavy winds at a campaign rally in Mexico on Wednesday.

16 hours ago

Estonia's capital of Tallinn is seen from a British Chinook helicopter on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. ...

Emma Burrows, Associated Press

Russia is waging a shadow war on the West that needs a collective response, Estonian leader says

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas says Russia is conducting a "shadow war" against the West. As the war in Ukraine takes a turn in Russia's favor, borders are being bolstered in the front-line Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, as well as in Finland and Poland.

2 days ago

Workers started erecting the eight feet tall black screen on May 21. (Kyodo News/Getty Images via C...

Lilit Marcus, CNN

Japanese town overrun with tourists puts up view-blocking barrier near Mount Fuji

The Japanese town of Fujikawaguchiko has erected a giant black net to block views of Mount Fuji, a reaction to the town’s huge popularity on Instagram and other social media platforms.

2 days ago

BEIJING, CHINA - MAY 26: Democratic Republic of Congo's President Felix Tshisekedi attends talks wi...

Jessica Donati, Hannah Schoenbaum and Michael Biesecker, Associated Press

Congo names third American in a foiled coup plot as mourners gather in Utah to remember plot leader

Congo’s army spokesman has released the name of the third American involved a foiled coup plot in Kinshasa.

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 Internet Safety Tips for Kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Ukraine warns northern front has ‘significantly worsened’ as Russia claims capture of several villages