May 10, 2024 - World

Russia launches new assault on Ukraine's northern Kharkiv region

Smoke rises over a house after a Russian missile attack

Aftermath of a Russian missile strike on Kharkiv on May 10. Photo: Vyacheslav Madiyevskyy/Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images

Russian forces on Friday launched a new ground assault on Ukraine's northeast Kharkiv region, which has been hotly contested throughout the war.

Why it matters: The new offensive ratchets up pressure on Ukraine's second-largest city, Kharkiv, and comes as Russia has intensified its attacks on eastern Ukraine in recent weeks.

The big picture: "There was an attempt by the enemy to break through our defense line under the cover of armored vehicles," at around 5 a.m. local time Friday, Ukraine's Ministry of Defense said in a Telegram post.

  • Ukrainian forces managed to repel the initial attacks, but "battles of varying intensity continue," it added.
  • Reserve units have been promptly dispatched to the area, the post added.
  • The attacks killed at least two civilians and injured five others, Oleh Syniehubov, the governor of Kharkiv oblast, wrote in a Telegram post.

State of play: Ukrainian officials have been warning for weeks that Russia planned to launch a new offensive in the spring.

  • "We are preparing. The personnel is preparing. The soldiers are engaged in training," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told CBS last month.
  • The warnings came as Ukraine lobbied the U.S. Congress to approve additional foreign aid for Ukraine — which it finally did last month.
  • The Biden administration announced a new $400 million military assistance package for Ukraine on Friday.

What they're saying: "This timely and vital U.S. assistance will help save civilian lives and strengthen Ukrainian warriors on the frontlines," Zelensky wrote on X Friday, thanking the Biden administration for the new package.

  • In a video address posted to Telegram, Zelensky urged Ukraine's allies to support it with "timely supplies."
  • "The package that really helps is the weapons brought to Ukraine, not just the announcement of the package," he said.

Context: Kharkiv region was an early focal point of the war following Russia's invasion in February 2022, with Russian troops entering Ukraine's second largest city that same month.

  • However, a Ukrainian counteroffensive in September 2022 managed to successfully push Russian forces out of the region.
  • In recent months, Russia's assault on Ukraine has been primarily focused on the east and south of the country.
  • However, the city of Kharkiv has been increasingly targeted by Russian missile strikes since the start of the year, per CNN.
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