Damaged buildings in the North Saltovka region, on the outskirts of Kharkiv, Ukraine, May 11, 2022. (EFE/EPA/SERGEY KOZLOV).

The Ukrainian counteroffensive north of Kharkiv has eased military pressure on the country’s second-largest city, as Russian forces continue their westward ground offensive in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

“The Army of Ukraine continued its advance northeast of Kharkiv. The Ukrainian counteroffensive to the north of Kharkiv forced Russian troops to go on defense and reduced artillery pressure on the city,” the US-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said today.

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TENSIONS ON THE NORTHERN BORDER

Meanwhile, in the north of the region of Kharkivthe Russian artillery continues to hammer the positions of the Ukrainian troops, especially the arsenals of weapons and ammunition.

A situation that worsened after the attack perpetrated the day before by Ukraine against a border town in the Russian region of Belgorod, bordering the region of Kharkivas a result of which one civilian died and six people were injured.

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These Russian towns have been under attack since the start of the “special military operation” on February 24, to which Moscow has responded with punitive bombing in kyiv and other cities in the country.

After this new attack, Russian troops punished several towns in the Chernigov region and Russian aircraft hit Ukrainian positions in the Sumy region, all of them in northern Ukraine.

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Given this situation, the Russian federal air transport agency, Rosaviatsia, extended this Thursday for another week the provisional closure of eleven airports in central and southern Russia, in force since February 24.

Damaged buildings in the North Saltovka region, on the outskirts of Kharkiv, Ukraine, May 11, 2022. (EFE/EPA/SERGEY KOZLOV).

Dmitri Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, stated that the attacks on Russian territory “make it necessary to apply additional measures to strengthen the security of the areas adjacent to Ukraine.”

PRESSURE IN THE EAST AND SOUTH

However, the main pressure of the Russian Army is exerted in the east, where the offensive continues to conquer the regions of Donetsk and Luganskand in the south, to maintain control of Khersonkey to the land corridor with occupied Crimea, said the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in its last part.

According to the Ukrainian military entity, the Russians are trying to reinforce the units that suffered casualties in Donetsk and provide them with logistical support, for which they have redeployed around 300 combat teams.

ISW, for its part, indicated that the Russians are regrouping south of Izium in order to surround the Ukrainian troops between the southern region of Kharkiv and the west of the Donetsk region.

In addition, the American center stated that the Russian troops “are seeking to strengthen their positions in the west of the Kherson region” to take control of the towns of Bruskínskoye and Bolshaya Alexandrovka and “improve their tactical situation in the south” of the country.

Meanwhile, in the port city of Mariupol, the main efforts of the occupation troops are focused on blocking and eliminating the Ukrainian fighters entrenched in the Azovstal steel mill, the last stronghold of local resistance in the area.

ANNIVERSARIES OF DONETSK AND LUGANSK

This, in the midst of the celebrations by the pro-Russian separatist republics of Donetsk and Lugansk for the respective anniversaries of their declarations of independence, celebrated on May 11 and 12.

This is the first time that both republics commemorate this date after being recognized by the Kremlin on February 21, although the fighting has prevented any type of celebration, but not the harangues of their leaders, Denís Pushilin and Leonid Pásechnik.

“A future of peace awaits us. Together with Russia we will rebuild everything that has been destroyed, we will make our land better,” said Donetsk leader Pushilin.

For his part, the head of Lugansk assured the inhabitants of the areas that fell under pro-Russian control after the start of the military conflict: “We came back to stay.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin today assured the leader of Lugansk that Russia will defend “the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the republic”, words that he added to the day before Pushilin’s congratulations, to whom he assured: together “we will be able to overcome all difficulties and achieve victory.

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