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Battles rage in Ukraine as Russian forces advance in Kharkiv region

An apartment building damaged in the Russian missile attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Andrii Marienko)
An apartment building damaged in the Russian missile attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Andrii Marienko) Copyright Zurab Tsertsvadze/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Zurab Tsertsvadze/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
By Euronews with AP & EBU
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Thousands of Ukrainian civilians have been forced to flee savage fighting in the country's northeast.

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Ukraine said on Thursday its forces are fighting an intensifying Russian offensive in the Kharkiv region. 

Moscow's troops were reportedly attacking Ukrainian positions in the northern districts of Vovchansk – some 5km from the Russian border – though Kyiv said it was holding off the advance. 

"The Ukrainian Defence Forces have taken decisive actions to significantly reduce the activity of the Russian occupiers," the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine wrote on Facebook. "The enemy’s plans to penetrate as deep as possible into the urban area of Vovchansk and gain a foothold there have been disrupted.

"The situation is under control," he added.

Russia began an operation in the northeastern region last week, marking its most significant border incursion since the full-scale invasion began in 2022.

The move has forced Kyiv's beleaguered army to pile in reinforcements, with the US pledging more military assistance on Wednesday.

A destroyed apartment building is seen at the site of a Russian army attack with guided aerial bombs in Kherson, Ukraine, Thursday, May 15, 2024.
A destroyed apartment building is seen at the site of a Russian army attack with guided aerial bombs in Kherson, Ukraine, Thursday, May 15, 2024.AP/AP

Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy decided to put off a planned trip to Portugal and Spain later this week to deal with the crisis, underscoring the seriousness of the threat his soldiers face.

People are fleeing the areas of active hostilities en masse in the Kharkiv region, with evacuations underway coordinated by local authorities and humanitarian groups. Thousands have been evacuated between 10 and 15 May.

Three Russian aerial bombs hit a residential neighbourhood in Kherson on Wednesday, according to the Regional Military Administration. At least 18 people were injured, including one child.

Ukrainian forces withdrew from some parts of the Kharkiv region on Wednesday. 

In an effort to overstretch Kyiv's forces, Russia is directly engaging Ukraine’s army, which is short of ammunition and manpower, at multiple points across a 1,000-kilometre front line.

Russian artillery and raids have been menacing Ukraine’s northern Chernihiv and Sumy regions. Shelling is damaging residential buildings, educational and medical institutions and other civilian infrastructure, with fires breaking out.

Against the grim backdrop, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken sought to reassure Ukraine of continuing American support. 

He announced $2 billion (€1.8 billion) in military support, most of which comes from an aid package approved last month after months of congressional deadlock.

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