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Deadly Russian airstrikes on the cities of Kharkiv and Odesa

Smoke rises after a Russian attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Friday, May 17, 2024.
Smoke rises after a Russian attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Friday, May 17, 2024. Copyright Evgeniy Maloletka/Copyright 2020 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Evgeniy Maloletka/Copyright 2020 The AP. All rights reserved
By Euronews with AP
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Four people have died after Russian airstrikes hit the city of Kharkiv on Friday, as Ukrainian troops fought to halt Russian advances in the region.

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The airstrikes targeted Ukraine's second-largest city during the day time, injuring 25 people. Oleh Syniehubov, head of Kharkiv Oblast Military Administration, said the number of dead had risen from two to four.

On Thursday, the air alarm sounded for more than 16 hours, a record since the beginning of the military campaign by Russia.

Kharkiv is under airstrikes almost daily as intense battles continue in the region.

And one person was killed and eight others wounded on Friday following Russian airstrikes on Odesa, Ukraine's National Police said on Telegram.

Five people were hospitalised and three others were treated on the spot.

Rescue teams said that 58 firefighters and 16 units of equipment tackled a large blaze covering 8,000 square meters.

Elsewhere, Ukrainian troops were fighting to halt Russian advances in Ukraine northeastern Kharkiv region that began late last week.

Recent Russian attacks have also targeted the eastern Donetsk region, as well as the Chernihiv and Sumy regions in the north and in the southern Zaporizhzhia region — apparently seeking to further stretch depleted Ukrainian resources.

This image released by Maxar Technologies shows an overview of destroyed MiG 31 fighter aircraft and fuel storage facility at Belbek air base, near Sevastopol, in Crimea, Thur
This image released by Maxar Technologies shows an overview of destroyed MiG 31 fighter aircraft and fuel storage facility at Belbek air base, near Sevastopol, in Crimea, ThurAP/Satellite image ©2024 Maxar Technologies

Meanwhile, in southern Russia, authorities reported a refinery was also set on fire. 

President Vladimir Putin told reporters in Beijing that Moscow retaliated against the Ukrainian shelling of Russia's Belgorod region by launching attacks in the Kharkiv region. 

He emphasised that if the shelling persisted, Russia will have to establish a security or sanitary zone, which is currently underway. He asserted that Russian troops are advancing daily according to plan, reiterating that there are no current plans to seize Kharkiv.

People walk on a street while smoke rises after a Russian attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Friday, May 17, 2024.
People walk on a street while smoke rises after a Russian attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Friday, May 17, 2024.Evgeniy Maloletka/Copyright 2020 The AP. All rights reserved

Ukrainian forces are trying to halt Russian advances in the Kharkiv region, which kicked off late last week.

In a bid to boost troop numbers, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed two laws on Friday, allowing prisoners to enlist in the army, whilst also significantly raising fines for draft evasion. The controversial mobilisation law comes into effect on Saturday.

Russia had previously enlisted prisoners in the conflict. The new legislation allows for parole from imprisonment and subsequent enlistment for military service for certain individuals charged with criminal offences, excluding those convicted of crimes against Ukraine's national security.

In response to the recent escalation, Ukrainian authorities have evacuated approximately 8,000 civilians from the town of Vovchansk, located just five kilometres from the Russian border. The Russian military's strategy typically involves aerial bombardment to devastate towns and villages before ground troops move in.

Ukraine's military chief, Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, said on Friday that Russia's new offensive has extended the active hostilities zone by nearly 70 kilometres, aiming to compel Ukraine to spread its forces and deploy reserve troops.

In the Kharkiv region, Zelenskyy said on Friday that Russian forces have advanced 10 kilometres from the border.

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