NYT: Russian attacks open a new front in Ukraine

10:28 14.05.2024 •

On Friday at dawn, Russian troops launched a complex attack with aircraft, artillery, infantry troops and armor, surging across the border near Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city. By all accounts  the two sides are now locked in heavy fighting over a string of villages just a few miles inside Ukrainian territory, writes ‘The New York Times’.

By Saturday evening, it wasn’t clear who was winning. The Russian Defense Ministry claimed to have captured five border settlements, which Ukraine denied, though one independent military analyst said that geolocated footage showed Ukrainian drone strikes on presumed Russian armor that had, indeed, crossed the border. Ukrainian officials said that they were counterattacking and that the Russians had advanced no more than three miles beyond the border.

Military analysts say they believe the incursion may be part of a wily Russian strategy, not necessarily to open a new line of attack on Kharkiv but to suck away Ukraine’s forces from other battlefields where the Ukrainians are already worn out and stretched thin.

“It is likely the coming weeks will be a very grim affair for the Ukrainian ground forces in the east,” said Mick Ryan, a retired Australian general and fellow at the Lowy Institute, a Sydney-based research group, in an initial assessment of the offensive.

Mr. Ryan added, “If the Ukrainians decide to hold ground at all costs, they will lose more of their increasingly smaller army.”

The result, he said, could be “a severe test,” and “one of the toughest moments for Ukraine in the war so far.”

Still, Ukraine must be careful how it responds, given its depleted military. Supplies from a long-delayed American aid package are only beginning to trickle to the front lines, leaving the Ukrainians more vulnerable than they have been in months.

Russian forces have been slowly but steadily chewing through Ukrainian defenses 150 miles south of Kharkiv, heading toward the small but strategically located old factory town of Chasiv Yar. Recent reports indicate that Russian troops have advanced close enough to a critical highway to nearly cut Ukrainian supply lines.


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