Russia bombards border city as major assault on Ukraine continues

A police officer runs in front on burning house destroyed by a Russian airstrike in Vovchansk, Ukraine
A police officer runs in front on burning house destroyed by a Russian airstrike in Vovchansk, Ukraine Copyright Evgeniy Maloletka/Copyright 2020 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Evgeniy Maloletka/Copyright 2020 The AP. All rights reserved
By Daniel HarperAP
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Russia targets the border city of Vovchansk with intense airstrikes and rocket attacks as part of its major new assault on eastern Ukraine.

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The recent offensive marks a significant new phase in the conflict, threatening Ukraine's defensive lines and energy infrastructure.

Vovchansk, situated on the border with Russia, has become a focal point of Russia's latest military operations. The strategic importance of this region is clear as Russia aims to gain control and establish a foothold in northeastern Ukraine.

Around 900 city residents evacuated in one day

Russian forces, bolstered by earlier attacks on energy infrastructure and settlements since March, have intensified their efforts in preparation for this ground offensive. Military analysts suggest that this was aimed at preparing for the current assault.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has urgently called on Western allies to expedite the delivery of promised weaponry to support Ukraine's defense efforts.

The recent escalation has led to the evacuation of Vovchansk's remaining residents by police and volunteers. Reports indicate that 900 people were evacuated on Friday alone, underlining the urgency and gravity of the situation.

Meanwhile, in the Russian-occupied city of Donetsk, Moscow-appointed authorities reported casualties resulting from Ukrainian strikes, further exacerbating tensions in the region.

Russian forces have claimed territorial gains, capturing several villages in northeastern Ukraine. Ukrainian officials, however, have not confirmed these assertions, highlighting the fluid and contested nature of the conflict along the border.

A police officer speaks to en elderly woman after a Russian airstrike during evacuation in Vovchansk, Ukraine
A police officer speaks to en elderly woman after a Russian airstrike during evacuation in Vovchansk, UkraineEvgeniy Maloletka/Copyright 2020 The AP. All rights reserved

Fear and uncertainty for locals

The renewed assault has triggered mass civilian displacement, with over 1,700 residents fleeing their homes in settlements near the conflict zone. The situation remains precarious as Russia continues to target populated areas with airstrikes and rocket barrages.

The scenes in Vovchansk are dire, with buildings destroyed, fires raging, and the city enveloped in smoke and debris. Russian airstrikes have left the city devastated, prompting widespread fear and uncertainty among the local population.

President Zelenskyy's government is sending reinforcements to the Kharkiv region to repel the advancing Russian forces. Despite the challenges, Ukrainian officials remain resolute in defending their territory against Russian aggression.

The conflict's broader implications are becoming increasingly apparent, with Russia's ambitions possibly extending to carving out a "buffer zone" along its border. 

As the conflict intensifies, the toll on civilians and infrastructure continues to mount, emphasizing the urgent need for diplomatic intervention and decisive action to de-escalate the crisis. 

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