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Russia not seeking Kharkiv capture, claims Putin

by editor

Russia is currently not seeking to capture Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv, President Vladimir Putin has claimed.

“There are no such plans today,” he said at the end of his visit to China.

But he stressed that Russian forces were advancing in the north-eastern Kharkiv region to create a “security zone” for Russia’s own security.

Ukraine says the front line has stabilised, admitting that Russia has occupied a number of border villages.

Russia launched its offensive in the region last week, and fierce street fighting has been reported for the past several days in the key town of Vovchansk near the Russian border.

On Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed that Russian troops had only managed to advance to the first of Ukraine’s three defensive lines in the region.

Similar comments were made by Ukraine’s top commander Oleksandr Syrskyi, who said the “enemy has extended the active combat zone to nearly 70km (43 miles)” in the region.

Overnight, Kharkiv – which had a pre-war population of nearly 1.4 million – again came under Russian drone attack and shelling, local officials said. The technological and industrial hub lies about 30km from the Russian border.

Russia’s full-scale invasion of its neighbour is now in its third year, and there are currently no signs that the war – the bloodiest conflict in Europe since World War Two – could end any time soon.

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