Ukraine: Hundreds flee Kharkiv area after Russian attack

Russian attacks in north-east Ukraine have prompted the evacuation of almost 1,800 people from the Kharkiv area, the regional head has said.

Heavy fighting has continued in the border area following Russia’s surprise incursions on Friday.

Kyiv has been expecting a Russian summer offensive for some time – including a possible attempt to capture Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city.

On Saturday Russia said it had seized five villages near the town of Vovchansk in its latest offensive. The BBC has not been able to independently verify the claim.

It is still not clear how far the Russians will advance – whether this is a probing attack or the start of something bigger.

Ukrainian artillery guns are now firing back. The booms of exchanging fire echo loudly down the already bomb-damaged streets.

A total of 1,775 people have been evacuated, Kharkiv regional head Oleh Syniehubov said on social media. Hundreds more remain in Vovchansk, just 6km (3.7 miles) from the Russian border.

Russia’s air force is having an increasingly deadly effect, and for now Ukraine has no answer.

Ukrainian officials say Russia had the capability to aggravate the situation in border areas but not to capture the city of Kharkiv itself.

Moscow has been looking to capitalise on the delayed arrival of US weaponry by continuing to push forwards in the eastern Donetsk region.

The return of heavy fighting in the north-east further illustrates Russia’s growing ambitions.


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