Zelenskyy warns that the Russian offensive in Kharkiv may be just a “first wave” | Russia-Ukraine War News

The president says Ukraine has a quarter of the air defenses needed to hold the front line as Russia advances along the northeastern border.

Russia’s offensive in Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv border region may simply be the “first wave” of a broader assault, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned as he appealed to allies to send more air defense and aircraft. combat.

Russian forces, which had made only moderate gains in recent months, launched a surprise assault on the Kharkiv region on May 10 that resulted in their biggest territorial gains in a year and a half.

Zelenskyy admitted Friday in an interview with the AFP news agency that Ukraine only has a quarter of the air defenses it needs to hold the front line while the war continues.

He said Russian forces managed to advance five to 10 kilometers (3 to 6 miles) along the northeastern border before being stopped by Ukrainian forces.

On Saturday, Kharkiv Governor Oleg Synegubov said that “a total of 9,907 people have been evacuated” from the region following a ground attack by Russian troops.

Al Jazeera’s John Holman, reporting from Kharkiv, said Ukraine is currently “outmanned” on parts of the front line even before the latest Russian attacks.

“Ukraine said there were seven Russian soldiers for every Ukrainian soldier, so that will put new pressure on them,” he said.

In an effort to increase troop numbers, Zelenskyy signed two laws, one to allow prisoners to join the military and another that increases fines for draft evaders fivefold, which go into effect on Saturday.

The president acknowledged that Russian forces were “deepening into our territory,” adding that to achieve at least a level of air “parity” with Russia, Ukraine needs “120 to 130” F-16 fighter jets or other advanced aircraft.

“Today we have about 25 percent of what we need to defend Ukraine. I mean air defense,” he told AFP.

President Vladimir Putin said Friday that the offensive in the Kharkiv region is aimed at creating a buffer zone and that Russia has no plans to capture the city of Kharkiv.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to China, Putin said Moscow launched its attacks in response to the Ukrainian bombing of the neighboring Russian region of Belgorod.

“I have said publicly that if this continues, we will be forced to create a security zone, a health zone,” he said. “That’s what we’re doing”.

Meanwhile, the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskii, said Russia’s new offensive has “expanded the zone of active hostilities” by nearly 70 kilometers (45 miles) to try to force Ukraine to extend their forces and use reserve troops.

In response to the new attacks, Ukraine launched a counterattack and drone strikes on the Russian-occupied Ukrainian territory of Crimea.

A Ukrainian intelligence official confirmed to The Associated Press news agency that the country’s intelligence services attacked Russian military infrastructure sites in Novorossiysk, on the Black Sea coast, and in the Russian-occupied city of Sevastopol.

The operation, carried out by Ukrainian-built drones, targeted ships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, the unnamed official said.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said 51 Ukrainian drones were shot down over Crimea, 44 over Russia’s Krasnodar region and six over the Belgorod region. Russian fighter jets and patrol boats also destroyed six marine drones in the Black Sea, he said.

Mikhail Razvozhayev, governor of Sevastopol, which is the main base of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, said the drone attack damaged the city’s power plant.

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