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Russia Targets Kharkiv in Major Offensive After Kyiv Attacks Refineries

Russia Opens New Front Line in Ukraine, in Kharkiv BlitzkriegRussia Targets Kharkiv in Major Offensive After Kyiv Attacks Refineries

Over the weekend, Russia launched a major offensive in the Kharkiv region, taking control of an estimated nine villages and prompting thousands to flee, France 24 reported on Monday.

Some 50,000 Russian troops were deployed to the region for the offensive, backed by 400 tanks, with the goal of creating a 20-kilometer buffer zone on an expanded front line, according to Euromaidan Press.

Russia’s end game for this region appears to be to occupy the city of Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine, with Euromaidan citing Russian sources as saying that at least 300,000 ground troops would be necessary for Moscow to take the city and its population of 1.4 million.

On Saturday, Fox News cited Kharkiv governor Oleh Syniehubov as stating that there was no imminent danger to Kharkhiv and no need for a mass evacuation, with Kyiv confident that Russia does not have enough deployed manpower to take the city. However, the governor conceded that while Ukrainian forces were succeeding so far in holding Russian troops back, fighting could spread into new settlements in the region.

Earlier on Monday, the Ukrainian military said it had thwarted Russian forces’ attempt to gain more ground towards the village of Lukyantsi, calling it a “partial success”.

The surprise nature of Moscow’s Kharkiv offensive has also prompted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to fire his Kharkiv military commander and install a replacement.

Russia’s revitalized offensive comes amid a Ukrainian campaign targeting oil refineries on Russian territory. So far, Reuters has estimated that Ukrainian drone attacks have shut-in some 14% of Russia’s refining capacity.

Most significantly, in late March, Ukraine attacked the Kuibyshev refinery owned by Rosneft, halting production due to damage. Citing a Russian news outlet that has not been independently confirmed, Newsweek reported that refinery workers have been quitting in large numbers due to safety concerns.

In April, Ukrainian drones targeted Russia’s third-largest refinery in Tatarstan, some 800 miles from the front line and southeast of Moscow.

By Charles Kennedy for