May 15, 2024 - World

Zelensky postpones foreign travel as Russia makes gains in Kharkiv offensive

Volodymyr Zelenskyi speaks during the meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (not pictured) on May 14,

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a meeting on May 14 in Kyiv. Photo: Vitalii Nosach /Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has postponed all of his upcoming trips abroad as Russia's new offensive has gained momentum, his office announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: Ukraine has struggled to hold back advancing Russian forces that have made quick progress in recent days in an offensive that is threatening to change the trajectory of the war.

Driving the news: Zelensky rescheduled all of his foreign trips that had been "planned for the upcoming days" — which included a trip to Spain — and instructed his team to reschedule, his office said in a Telegram post.

  • "We are grateful to our partners for their understanding," it added.

The big picture: Russia launched a new ground assault on the northeast region of Kharkiv last week, ratcheting up attacks on Ukraine's second largest city.

  • Russian forces have captured 40 to 50 square miles of Kharkiv region in recent days, forcing thousands of Ukrainians to flee their homes, AP reported.
  • Ukraine's armed forces wrote in a Facebook post Tuesday that some of its forces in Kharkiv "moved to more advantageous positions" due to the Russian assault.
  • Zelensky struck a positive note in a Telegram post Tuesday, writing, that "the situation is under control."

Zoom out: Congress passed a $61 billion aid package last month for Ukraine after months of stalling.

  • The Pentagon said on Monday that the latest tranche of aid had begun reaching Ukraine.
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who visited Kyiv Tuesday, told CBS' "Face the Nation" in an interview that aired Sunday "there's no doubt there's been a cost" to the delay in sending the aid to Ukraine.

Go deeper: Blinken visits Ukraine as Russian forces step up Kharkiv assault

Editor's note: This story was updated with additional developments.

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