Thousands flee NE Ukraine, Russia claims capture of several villages – Times of India

Thousands more civilians have fled Russia‘s renewed ground offensive in Ukraine‘s northeast that has targeted towns and villages with a barrage of artillery and mortar fire, officials said Sunday. The intense battles have forced at least one Ukrainian unit to withdraw in the Kharkiv region, capitulating more land to Russian forces in the so-called contested “gray zone” along Russian border.
By Sunday afternoon, the town of Vovchansk, among the largest in the northeast with a pre-war population of 17,000, emerged as a focal point in the battle. Volodymyr Tymoshko, the head of the Kharkiv regional police, said Russian forces were in the outskirts of the town and approaching from three directions..
At least 4,000 civilians have fled the Kharkiv region since Friday, when Moscow’s forces launched the operation, Gov. Oleh Syniehubov said. Heavy fighting raged Sunday along the northeast frontline, where Russian forces attacked 27 settlements in the past 24 hours, he said. Analysts say the Russian push is designed to exploit ammunition shortages before promised Western supplies can reach the frontline. It comes after Russia stepped up attacks in March targeting energy infrastructure and settlements.
The Russian defence ministry said Sunday that its forces had captured four villages on the border along Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, in addition to five villages reported to have been seized on Saturday. Ukraine’s leadership has not confirmed Moscow’s gains. But Tymoshko said that Strilecha, Pylna and Borsivika were under Russian occupation. AP

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