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Russia advances in Kharkiv; Zelenskyy cancels trips to focus on defense

Thursday

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Russian forces are advancing further into Ukrainian territory than they have since December 2022. The intensified fighting has forced more than 8,000 people to flee their homes. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has canceled several overseas trips to oversee his country’s defenses.

Russia is attempting to seize as much ground as possible before additional Western aid reaches Ukraine. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently spent two days in Ukraine, where he announced an additional $2 billion in military aid and reaffirmed Washington’s continued support.

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On Thursday, May 16, Russia’s Ministry of Defense said its forces would continue their assault in Kharkiv, where they have destroyed a Ukrainian air defense command post and an ammunition depot.

The Russian military also claimed on the Ministry of Defense’s official Telegram channel to have captured 107 square miles of Ukrainian territory. Russian state-run media, however, has made little mention of the high troop casualty rates and equipment losses.

In anticipation of the Russian advance, President Zelenskyy lowered the draft age for military service for males from 27 to 25. The move aims to boost Ukrainian forces by 100,000 soldiers.

Ukraine’s military challenges were exacerbated by a four-month halt in weapons supplies from the U.S., which resumed after Congress passed a $61 billion aid package. Restrictions on the use of Western weapons within Russian territory have allowed Russian forces to mass safely across the border, according to some analysts.

An estimated 30,000 Russian troops are currently stationed near the border in Belgorod. The U.S., which has previously supplied Ukraine with long-range missiles used to strike Russian targets in Crimea, insists this assistance should be used only for defense, not for offensive operations in Russian territory.

Russia also claimed it captured territory in the southeastern Donetsk and eastern Zaporizhzhia regions as well.

“Russia started a new wave of offensive actions in this direction,” Zelenskyy stated, referring to the Kharkiv region. “Ukraine met them there with troops: brigades and artillery. It is important to understand that they can increase and bring more forces in this direction. It is a fact. But our military and military commanders were aware of it and assessed its forces in order to meet the enemy with artillery fire.”

Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, holds strategic significance. It’s not clear if Russia plans to capture it, but Kyiv officials suggest Moscow may simply be aiming to stretch Ukraine’s resources as fresh aid arrives.

The Russian advances follow Russian President Vladimir Putin’s call for a “buffer zone” in March near Kharkiv to halt Ukrainian drone attacks on Russian oil infrastructure — a tactic that has significantly impacted the Kremlin’s bottom line.

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[RYAN ROBERTSON]

RUSSIAN FORCES ARE PUSHING FURTHER INTO UKRAINIAN TERRITORY THAN THEY HAVE SINCE DECEMBER OF 2022. MORE THAN 8,000 PEOPLE WERE FORCED TO FLEE THEIR HOMES BECAUSE OF THE FIGHTING, AND UKRAINE’S PRESIDENT, VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY CALLED OFF SEVERAL OVER SEAS TRIPS TO OVERSEE HIS COUNTRY’S DEFENSES.

RUSSIA IS TRYING TO TAKE AS MUCH GROUND AS POSSIBLE BEFORE MORE WESTERN AID STARTS FLOWING INTO UKRAINIAN HANDS. US SECRETARY OF STATE ANTONY BLINKEN SPENT A COUPLE OF DAYS IN UKRAINE RECENTLY, WHERE HE ANNOUNCED AN ADDITIONAL 2 BILLION DOLLARS IN MILITARY AID…AND REAFFIRMED WASHINGTON’S CONTINUED SUPPORT.

ON THURSDAY, RUSSIA’S MINISTRY OF DEFENSE SAID ITS FORCES WOULD CONTINUE THEIR ASSAULT IN KHARKIV, WHERE A UKRAINIAN AIR DEFENSE COMMAND POST AND AN AMMUNITION DEPOT WERE DESTROYED.

THE RUSSIAN MILITARY DOCUMENTED ITS WEEK-LONG ADVANCE ON MOD’S OFFICIAL TELEGRAM CHANNEL, CLAIMING ITS FORCES CAPTURED 107 SQUARE MILES OF UKRAINIAN TERRITORY. THERE IS LITTLE MENTION OF THE HIGH TROOP CASUALTY RATES AND EQUIPMENT LOSSES RUSSIA IS TAKING IN ITS STATE RUN MEDIA, THOUGH.

IN ANTICIPATION OF THE RUSSIAN ADVANCE — PRESIDENT ZELENSKY LOWERED THE DRAFT AGE FOR MILITARY SERVICE FOR MALES FROM 27 TO 25. THE MOVE WAS MADE IN AN EFFORT TO BOOST UKRAINIAN FORCES BY 100-THOUSAND SOLDIERS.

UKRAINE’S MILITARY CHALLENGES WERE EXACERBATED BY A FOUR-MONTH HALT IN WEAPONS SUPPLIES FROM THE US. AID STARTED TO FLOW AGAIN AFTER CONGRESS PASSED A $61 BILLION AID PACKAGE.

OF COURSE–UKRAINE’S OFFENSIVE CAPABILITIES ARE ALSO BEING HAMPERED BY WESTERN RESTRICTIONS ON WESTERN WEAPONS–WHICH PROHIBIT THE USE OF MANY THINGS INSIDE RUSSIAN TERRITORY.
THE RESTRICTIONS, ACCORDING TO SOME ANALYSTS, ALLOW ALLOWING RUSSIAN FORCES TO MASS SAFELY ACROSS THE BORDER.

AN ESTIMATED 30,000 RUSSIAN TROOPS ARE CURRENTLY STATIONED NEAR THE BORDER IN BELGOROD.

THE US — WHICH PREVIOUSLY SUPPLIED UKRAINE WITH LONG-RANGE MISSILES USED TO STRIKE RUSSIAN TARGETS IN CRIMEA — INSISTS THIS ASSISTANCE SHOULD BE USED ONLY FOR DEFENSE, NOT FOR OFFENSIVE OPERATIONS IN RUSSIAN TERRITORY.

ALL THIS WHILE RUSSIA ALSO CLAIMED IT CAPTURED TERRITORY IN THE SOUTHEASTERN DONETSK AND EASTERN ZAPORIZHZHIA REGIONS AS WELL.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT
“Russia started a new wave of offensive actions in this direction (Kharkiv region). Ukraine met them there with troops: brigades and artillery. It is important to understand that they can increase and bring more forces in this direction. It is a fact. But our military and military commanders were aware of it and assessed its forces in order to meet the enemy with artillery fire.”

[RYAN ROBERTSON]

KHARKIV, UKRAINE’S SECOND-LARGEST CITY, DOES HOLD STRATEGIC SIGNIFICANCE — BUT IT’S NOT REALLY CLEAR IF RUSSIA PLANS TO CAPTURE IT…
KYIV SUGGESTED MOSCOW MAY AIM TO SIMPLY STRETCH UKRAINE’S RESOURCES AS FRESH AID ARRIVES.

THE RUSSIAN ADVANCES FOLLOW PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN’S CALL FOR A “BUFFER ZONE” IN MARCH NEAR KHARKIV. PUTIN WANTED TO PUT A STOP TO UKRAINIAN DRONE ATTACKS ON RUSSIAN OIL INFRASTRUCTURE — A TACTIC WHICH IS PROVING IMPACTFUL TO THE KREMLIN’S BOTTOM LINE.

TO STAY UP TO DATE ON THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR DOWNLOAD THE STRAIGHT ARROW NEWS APP OR VISIT US AT SAN DOT COM.

FOR STRAIGHT ARROW NEWS, I’M RYAN ROBERTSON