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Ukraine, Russia attack civilian territories in border regions


Foreign journalists report from an observation point while smoke rises after a Russian attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, May 17, 2024.
Foreign journalists report from an observation point while smoke rises after a Russian attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, May 17, 2024.

At least 11 people were killed and scores wounded from Russian missile strikes on a crowded lakeside resort just outside Kharkiv city Sunday and on surrounding villages as Russian attacks have become a daily occurrence in northeastern Ukraine.

"There were never any soldiers here," said Yaroslav Trofimko, a police inspector at the resort, said. "It was a Sunday; people were supposed to be here to rest. Children were supposed to be here, pregnant women, resting, enjoying a normal way of life."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy again pressed Western allies to provide additional air defense systems to protect Kharkiv and other Ukrainian cities.

"The world can stop Russian terror — and to do so, the lack of political will among leaders must be overcome," Zelenskyy said on the Telegram messaging app.

"Two Patriots for Kharkiv will make a fundamental difference," he added, referring to Patriot missile defense systems. He also said that air defense systems for other cities and support for soldiers on the front line would ensure Russia's defeat.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military shelled two towns in Russia's southern Belgorod region on Sunday, injuring at least 13 people, including three children, and damaging residential areas, Regional Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Telegram. Several apartment buildings sustained damage, Gladkov said.

The Reuters news agency could not verify the reports independently.

Ukraine's military has launched frequent attacks on towns and villages on Russian border regions.

Russia said Sunday that Ukraine launched 62 drones on Russian regions, forcing the Slavyansk oil refinery in Russia’s southern Krasnodar region to halt operations, the Interfax news agency reported. A Ukrainian intelligence source told Reuters in Kyiv that Ukraine's security service, SBU, and military drones struck the Slavyansk refinery and a military airfield in Krasnodar region in overnight attacks.

The Ukrainian navy also said it had destroyed the Russian Black Sea Fleet's Project 266M Kovrovets minesweeper.

Russia said its forces defeated Ukraine's 24th and 42nd mechanized brigades and the 125th Air Defense Brigade at Lukiantsi, Vesele and Radhospne in the Kharkiv region and repelled attacks by Kyiv's forces at other points in the area.

Russia accused Kyiv's forces of firing U.S., French and Ukrainian missiles on Russia-held territory.

Russian advances

Russian forces took control of 278 square kilometers of Ukraine between May 9 and May 15, their biggest territorial gain since the end of 2022, according to Agence France-Presse, using data from the Institute for the Study of War.

During a visit to China, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region was a response to Ukraine shelling border regions.

Putin said that he aims at building a buffer zone against Ukranian attacks, but that Moscow has no plans on capturing Kharkiv.

“I have said publicly that if it continues, we will be forced to create a security zone, a sanitary zone,” he said. “That's what we are doing.” Russian troops were “advancing daily according to plan," he said.

To increase the number of Ukrainian troops, Zelenskyy signed two laws Friday allowing prisoners to join the army while imposing steep fines for draft dodgers. The controversial mobilization law took effect Saturday.

Ukraine recently lowered the draft age for soldiers from 27 to 25 and stiffened punishments for those who avoid being called up.

Ukrainian men are also obligated, under the new law, to update their personal data at military conscription centers across the country — a measure aimed at streamlining army recruitment.

Some information for this report came from Reuters, The Associated Press and Agence France-Presse.

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