Russia-Ukraine war: Kyiv sends reinforcements to Kharkiv and evacuates civilians as Russian forces advance – as it happened

Ukraine sends reinforcements to Kharkiv region to repel Russian advances

More reports are coming to us on the situation in the Kharkiv region.

Ukraine defence ministry said on Friday that it has sent military reinforcements to help repel Russian attacks in border areas of the Kharkiv region in the northeast.

It added that Russian troops tried to break through with armoured vehicles in the early morning but were beaten back, Reuters reported.

The ministry said:

At approximately 5 am, there was an attempt by the enemy to break through our defensive line under the cover of armoured vehicles.

As of now, these attacks have been repulsed; battles of varying intensity continue.

Although Russia’s offensive is focused on the Donetsk region, Kyiv has noted a recent build up of troops near the Kharkiv region.

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Key events

Closing summary

  • At least two civilians were killed and five more were injured during heavy Russian shelling of border settlements, said Oleh Syniehubov, governor of Kharkiv region. “All the enemy can do is to attack in certain small groups, you can call them sabotage and reconnaissance groups or something else, and test the positions of our military,” he said.

  • Russian forces launched an armoured ground attack on Friday near Ukraine’s second city of Kharkiv in the northeast of the country and made small inroads, opening a new front in a war that has long been waged in the east and south. Ukraine sent reinforcements, the defence ministry said, adding that Russia had pounded the frontier town of Vovchansk with guided aerial bombs and artillery. In Vovchansk authorities said they were helping civilians evacuate from the settlement and surrounding areas due to the heavy shelling.

  • President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told a news conference in Kyiv: “Russia has begun a new wave of counteroffensive actions in this direction. Now there is a fierce battle in this direction.” Zelenskiy said Russia could be preparing a big offensive push this spring or summer. Kyiv’s forces were prepared to meet Friday’s assault, but Moscow could send more troops to the area, he told reporters.

  • A senior Ukrainian military source who declined to be named said Russian forces had pushed 1 km (0.6 mile) inside the Ukrainian border near Vovchansk.The source said Russian forces were aiming to push Ukrainian troops as far back as 10 km (6.2 miles) inside Ukraine as part of an effort to create a buffer zone, but that Kyiv’s troops were trying to hold them back.

  • Ukraine destroyed all 10 drones as Russia launched an overnight attack, but two people were injured and residential buildings in the Kharkiv region were consumed by fire as a result of the attack, Ukrainian officials said on Friday. Moscow denies targeting civilians in what it said are legitimate strikes on Ukraine’s military, energy and transport infrastructure.

  • The air force said in a statement on the Telegram messaging app that Russia also launched two anti-aircraft guided missiles. Moscow denies targeting civilians in what it said are legitimate strikes on Ukraine’s military, energy and transport infrastructure.

  • A Ukraine drone attack set an oil refinery in Russia’s Kaluga region on fire, RIA state news agency reported on Friday, citing emergency services sources. Vladislav Shapsha, governor of the Kaluga region which borders the broader Moscow region, said on the Telegram messaging app that the fire was promptly extinguished. He did not say at what facility it took place. However, RIA reported that three containers with diesel fuel and one with fuel oil were consumed by the fire at the Pervyi Zavod refinery in Kaluga.

  • A senior Ukrainian military source has told Reuters Kyiv expects the first F-16 jets to be delivered in June or July.

  • The lower house of Russia’s parliament voted on Friday to approve the nomination of Mikhail Mishustin to return as prime minister, a position he has held since 2020.

  • Last night Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, dismissed the head of the department responsible for his personal protection on Thursday, two days after two of its members were accused of plotting to assassinate him. Zelenskiy issued a decree dismissing the head of the state guards, Serhiy Rud. No successor was identified.

  • Russia has lost 479,710 troops, 7,434 tanks and 14,313 armoured personnel vehicles since the conflict began, according to the General Staff of the Armed forces of Ukraine. It also reports that Russia losses include 16,691 vehicles and fuel tanks, 12,387 artillery systems, 1,062 multiple launch rocket systems, 349 airplanes, 325 helicopters, 9,826 drones and 26 ships and boats.

  • Russia’s Victory Day parade was “reduced in scale” compared to previous pre-war parades, the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) said. Parades were cancelled in 24 cities, primarily those cities in the regions that border Ukraine likely owing to “poor security”. This compares to 21 cancelled parades in 2023, the MoD added.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy met with the president of Slovakia, Zuzana Čaputová and thanked her for her “determination and moral leadership during this war”. He called on other allies to “speed up” provision of supplies.

In a post on X, he wrote:

Not all of our partners are currently fulfilling the agreements in a timely manner, and we require the maximum concentration of Ukraine’s friends to speed up supplies. I am grateful to every leader who assists us with this.

Today, I welcomed President of Slovakia @ZuzanaCaputova and thanked her for her determination and moral leadership during this war.

We had a detailed discussion about the frontline situation. I informed President Čaputová about Russian attempts to expand their offensive in the… pic.twitter.com/89tSm8zAiD

— Volodymyr Zelenskyy / Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) May 10, 2024

Russian lawmakers approve Putin’s nominee Mishustin as prime minister

The lower house of Russia’s parliament voted on Friday to approve the nomination of Mikhail Mishustin to return as prime minister, a position he has held since 2020.

Russia’s government resigned automatically after President Vladimir Putin’s inauguration on 7 May following his re-election, and he nominated Mishustin, 58, to continue leading the cabinet.

A worker, photographed on 2 April 2024, clears the rubble at DTEK’s power plant in Ukraine after it was hit by a Russian missile. Photograph: Evgeniy Maloletka/AP

Ukraine may face an increase in electricity shortages this summer caused by recent Russian attacks on power stations amid rising consumption and a repair campaign at nuclear power plants, the head of the country’s grid operator said on Friday.

Volodymyr Kudrytskiy, the head of Ukrenergo, told a televised briefing:

We will definitely face challenges in the summer and these challenges will be primarily related to capacity shortages due to damage to power plants.

After the latest attacks on the energy system, Ukrenergo imposed power supply restrictions on industrial consumers while the government urged the population to save electricity.

We realise that today is not the most difficult situation yet, we have not yet seen the real summer heat and air conditioning systems are not yet in use.

Since late March, the Ukrainian energy sector has been the target of massive Russian missile and drone attacks, causing blackouts in many regions and raising the issue of decentralisation of generating capacity, Reuters reported.

Ukrainian forces were prepared for a new Russian ground assault on the border of the northeastern Kharkiv region, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Friday.

“Ukraine met them there with troops: brigades and artillery,” he told a press conference, adding that Russia could send more troops to support its attempted advance.

Our graphics team have produced a map showing the region of the current fighting.

Ukraine map

Here are some of the latest images coming through from Kharkiv:

The aftermath of the explosion of a Russian missile in Kharkiv. Photograph: Anadolu/Getty Images
Firefighters in the Kharkiv region, Ukraine. Photograph: Anadolu/Getty Images
Rescuers extinguish the fire at the site of a Russian missile strike. Photograph: Global Images Ukraine/Getty Images

Ukraine chased Russian troops out of most of Kharkiv region in 2022, the first year of full-scale war, but after weathering Kyiv’s counteroffensive last year, Russia forces are back on the offensive and slowly advancing in the Donetsk region further south, reports Reuters.

Fears grew in March over the Kremlin’s intentions in Kharkiv region when Russian President Vladimir Putin called for the creation of a buffer zone inside Ukrainian territory that he said was needed to protect Russia.

Since then, Kharkiv, which is particularly vulnerable because of its proximity to Russia, has been hammered by air strikes that have caused major damage to the region’s power infrastructure.

More than two years into the invasion, Moscow has the battlefield momentum and Ukraine faces shortages of manpower and stocks of artillery shells and air defences.

Vovchansk assault ‘could be move to carve out a buffer zone’

Analysts said the assault on Vovchansk could mark the start of a Russian attempt to carve out a “buffer zone”, according to Associated Press. Vladimir Putin had vowed to create such an area earlier this year to halt frequent Ukrainian attacks on Belgorod and other Russian border regions.

Ukraine had previously said it was aware that Russia was assembling thousands of troops along the northeastern border, close to the Kharkiv and Sumy regions. While the Kremlin’s forces have made their most recent ground thrust in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian intelligence officials said they expected the Kremlin’s forces to attack in the northeast, too.

Though Russia likely can’t capture Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, it could compel Ukraine to send more troops to the region, leaving other areas more vulnerable to attack, according to the AP report. Also, forcing Ukrainian authorities to evacuate civilians is likely to create disruption and divert resources.

“The entire town is under massive shelling now, it is not safe to stay here,” Vovchansk administration head Tamaz Hambarishvili told Ukraine’s Hromadske Radio.

The Ukrainian defence ministry said fighting against Russian sabotage and reconnaissance groups continued into the afternoon.

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Kyiv expects delivery of first F-16 jets in June or July – military source

A senior Ukrainian military source has told Reuters Kyiv expects the first F-16 jets to be delivered in June or July.

Ukraine has sought the US-made F-16 fighter jets to help it counter Russian air superiority during more than two years of war. The source did not say who would supply the jets

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