Monday, June 24, 2024

Putin says Russia has no plan to seize Ukraine’s Kharkiv

Moscow has no intention of capturing the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, which is close to the Russian border, President Vladimir Putin has claimed. The remarks came as the Russian armed forces have been making notable gains in the area in recent days.

Speaking to reporters at the Harbin Institute of Technology during his two-day visit to China, Putin commented on Russia’s operations in Kharkov Region, asserting that Moscow is achieving success on the battlefield by acting “strictly according to plan”.

When asked about Russia’s goals there, Putin noted that Ukraine is to blame for recent fighting in the area, as it “unfortunately continues to shell residential blocks in the border areas, including Belgorod”.

“Civilians are dying out there. Everything is crystal clear. They are firing directly at the center of the city,” the president said, recalling that he had publicly warned Kiev that Russia would be forced to establish a “cordon sanitaire” in the areas under Kiev’s control if the attacks continued.

“This is what we are doing. As for [the capture of] Kharkov, there are no such plans for today.”

Russian forces went on the offensive in Kharkov Region last week, pushing Ukrainian troops back and capturing several border settlements. In light of this, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky canceled all upcoming foreign trips and traveled to Kharkov, Ukraine’s second largest city.

In an interview with ABC News on Thursday, he described the situation as “very serious”, stressing that Ukraine “cannot afford to lose” the city. Kiev also earlier announced the redeployment of reserves to this sector of the front.

In similar remarks, US Department of State spokesman Vedant Patel called the situation in the area “incredibly dire”. Several media reports suggested that the ease of Russia’s advance in Kharkov Region was due to Kiev’s failure to set up any proper defenses.

Putin first spoke of a “cordon sanitaire” back in March, following several particularly deadly attacks on Belgorod that left dozens of civilians dead. Russian border regions have also been the target of incursions by the so-called Russian Volunteer Corps and Russian Freedom Legion, which are composed of Russian defectors and fugitive neo-Nazis. Both groups have been designated terrorist organizations by Moscow.

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