May 28, 2024

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Zelensky cancels his foreign visits amid Russian advances

Zelensky cancels his foreign visits amid Russian advances

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has canceled his upcoming trips abroad as Russia gains control of more territory in Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region.

Presidential spokesman Sergei Nikiforov said in a statement on Wednesday that the Ukrainian leader “ordered the postponement of all international events scheduled for him in the coming days and the coordination of new dates.”

Zelensky was expected to travel to Spain and Portugal this week. The Spanish news agency reported that the Ukrainian leader was scheduled to meet with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and the country’s King Felipe.

“We are grateful to our partners for their understanding,” Nikiforov said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky waits to receive the US Secretary of State before their meeting in Kiev on May 14, 2024. Zelensky has canceled his upcoming trips abroad as Russia gains control of more territory in Ukraine.

Brendan Smalowski/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Russia launched a new cross-border attack in the Kharkiv region on Friday, quickly seizing a number of border villages and focusing bombardment on the city of Vovchansk, about three miles from internationally recognized Russian territory.

A local official in Vovchansk said on Wednesday that Russian forces had taken up positions in the city. The Ukrainian army said late on Tuesday that it had withdrawn its soldiers from certain parts of Vovchansk and another village in Kharkiv to save the lives of its fighters.

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Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesman Dmytro Lazutkin said on Wednesday that Russia was “trying to gain a foothold in the northern part of the city.” He added that Moscow is using small groups of infantry, some of which are already inside Vovchansk.

The Russian Ministry of Defense said on Wednesday that its forces took control of two villages north of the city of Kharkiv, the regional capital, which is located southwest of Vovchansk. Moscow said in a statement that the Russian Northern Group of Forces captured Hlebok and Lokhintsy.

Kharkiv is the second largest city in Ukraine, and it would be a very big prize for Russia. It is not yet clear whether Moscow intends to seize Kharkiv, and officials in Kiev say the Kremlin wants to divide Ukraine’s already scarce resources as new aid from the United States begins arriving in the war-torn country. Shortly after the start of the Russian offensive in the northeast of the country, Ukraine announced that it would quickly move its reserves to the border regions.

Russia is trying to prevent Ukraine from strengthening its eastern and southern positions, said Lt. Col. Nazar Voloshin, spokesman for the Khortytsya group of Ukrainian forces, which is fighting in eastern and northeastern Ukraine. Newsweek Tuesday. He added that Russian attacks across the front line away from Kharkiv have increased.

Local authorities said that thousands of people were evacuated from their homes in the Kharkiv region. As of Wednesday morning, nearly 8,000 people had been transferred, Oleh Sinyhopov, governor of the Kharkiv region, said in a post on the messaging app Telegram.

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Updated 5/15/24, 6:55 a.m. ET: This article has been updated with additional information.