Russia-Ukraine war live: Putin’s forces advance in Kharkiv as Zelensky admits battle is ‘difficult’

By Isaac M May 17, 2024
Xi welcomes Putin at official ceremony as Russian president begins state visit to China

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping have met in Beijing as they begin two-day talks to discuss their deepening “friendship”.

It comes as Russian forces advanced further into Ukraine’s northeast Kharkiv region on the seventh day of its surprise attack across the border.

Xi pledged to “cherish and nurture” China’s relationship with Russia as Putin described their partnership as “one of the main stabilising factors on the international arena”.

Key delegates, including Putin’s newly-appointed defence minister Andrei Belousov and his predecessor Sergei Shoigu, have joined Putin for the talks, which are expected to focus heavily on Russia and China’s burgeoning defence co-operation.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has travelled to the Kharkiv region in northeast Ukraine to meet with soldiers and those wounded in the fight against Russian forces in their surprise attack launched last Friday.

He said the situation in Kharkiv is “generally under control” but that the battle remains “extremely difficult”.

Ukrainian war tracker DeepState suggested Kremlin troops were advancing deeper into the Kharkiv region in what is now the seventh day of the attack.

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Russia expels British embassy official in tit-for-tat response

Russia has expelled the defence attache at the British Embassy in Moscow in a tit-for-tat response to the expulsion of one of its own diplomats from London last week.

The Russian foreign ministry said an embassy official had been summoned on Thursday and told Captain Adrian Coghill must leave the country within seven days.

The move follows the expulsion of Russian defence attache Colonel Maxim Elovik on May 8, whom the Home Secretary said was an “undeclared military intelligence officer”.

In a statement on its Telegram channel, the Russian foreign ministry said the expulsion of Col Elovik had been politically motivated and caused significant damage to relations between the two countries.

British embassy official Captain Adrian Coghill has been expelled from Moscow (Moscow News Agency)

Holly Evans16 May 2024 17:21

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International Monetary Fund to assess Ukraine’s war-torn economy

The International Monetary Fund will start a new Ukraine mission in coming weeks to assess the war-torn country’s economy and performance under a $15.6 billion loan program, IMF spokesperson Julie Kozack said on Thursday.

Kozack told a regular press briefing that the mission on the next loan program review will assess the latest economic developments in Ukraine and revise its macroeconomic framework and analysis of the country’s debt sustainability.

Holly Evans16 May 2024 16:41

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Zelensky visits Kharkiv as battleground situation deteriorates

President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the northeastern city of Kharkiv on Thursday to boost morale and reinforce Ukraine’s troops in the region where Russian forces are trying to press their new offensive beyond the border areas.

Moscow has made inroads of at least several kilometres into the north of Kharkiv region since Friday, forcing Kyiv’s outmanned troops to try to hold the line on a new front as Russia mounts more pressure on the front in the east.

“The direction remains extremely difficult – we are strengthening our units,” Zelensky said after holding a meeting in the city with his top commander and senior military leaders.

The Ukrainian leader, who has cancelled all his upcoming foreign trips as the battlefield situation deteriorates, met wounded soldiers recovering at a medical facility and posed for photographs with troops at another location.

Zelensky met with wounded servicemen during his visit to Kharkiv (UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SER)

Holly Evans16 May 2024 16:20

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China and Russia reaffirm their ‘no-limits’ partnership

Russian President Vladimir Putin has thanked Chinese leader Xi Jinping for China’s proposals on ending the war in Ukraine, which have been rejected by Ukraine and its western supporters as largely following the Kremlin’s line.

At their summit, Mr Putin and Mr Xi reaffirmed a “no-limits” partnership that has grown deeper as both countries face deepening tensions with the West, and criticised US military alliances in Asia and the Pacific region.

China claims to take a neutral position in the conflict, but it has backed Moscow’s contentions that Russia was provoked into attacking Ukraine by the West, and continues to supply Russia with key components that Moscow needs for its productions of weapons.

A joint statement after Mr Putin and Mr Xi met said that both sides believe that for “a sustainable settlement of the Ukrainian crisis, it is necessary to eliminate its root causes”.

Holly Evans16 May 2024 15:38

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Denmark to send military aid worth $815 million to Ukraine

Denmark will send a new military aid package to Ukraine, including primarily air defense and artillery, worth around 5.6 billion Danish crowns (£644 million), the Danish Defence Minister wrote on social media platform X on Thursday.

Tom Watling16 May 2024 15:15

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Russian forces ‘executing’ fleeing civilians in Vovchansk, says Ukrainian minister

Russian forces have “executed” civilians desperately trying to flee the battered Ukrainian town of Vovchansk, Ukraine’s Interior Minister has claimed.

Ihor Klymenko, writing on the Telegram messenger service, said Russian soldiers were killing civilians who were trying to flee Vovchansk on foot after the soldiers entered the north and northwest suburbs of the town. He added that they were “kidnapping” civilians that remained in the town and “herding [them] into basements”.

“As of now, according to operational information, the Russian military, who were trying to gain a foothold in the city, did not allow local residents to evacuate: people began to be kidnapped and herded into basements,” he wrote.

“It is known about the first executions of civilians by the Russian military. In particular, one of the inhabitants of Vovchansk tried to escape on foot, refused to obey the commands of the invaders – the Russians killed him.”

Vovchansk area residents, who fled due to Russian military strikes, gather at an evacuation centre compound in Kharkiv region (REUTERS)

Tom Watling16 May 2024 14:48

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Ukraine says it has checked Russia’s offensive in a key town, but Moscow says it will keep pushing

Ukrainian units locked in street battles with the Kremlin’s forces in a key northeastern Ukraine town have halted the Russian advance, military officials in Kyiv claimed Thursday, though a senior Moscow official said the frontline push had enough resources to keep going.

Russian attempts to establish a foothold in the town of Vovchansk, which is among the largest towns in Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region with a prewar population of 17,000, “have been foiled,” Ukraine’s general staff said in a midday report.

Tom Watling16 May 2024 14:00

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Sri Lanka to send delegation to Russia to help repatriate men duped into Ukraine fighting

Sri Lanka will dispatch a high-level delegation to Russia to investigate the fate of hundreds of nationals reportedly fighting in the war in Ukraine, a top official said on Thursday.

Social media campaigns via WhatsApp have targeted ex-military personnel with promises of lucrative salaries and promises of citizenship, the Defence Ministry has said, warning its nationals not to be duped.

The messages, sent by Sri Lankan nationals, provide a number to agents, who then arrange the documentation and the flights.

The campaigns have proved appealing as Sri Lanka struggles to emerge from its worst financial crisis in more than seven decades, which has doubled poverty rates from pre-pandemic levels and pushed hundreds of people to migrate.

Earlier this month, Sri Lankan authorities launched investigations into reports of its citizens, mostly with military training, being trafficked to fight in the war in Ukraine, said State Minister for Foreign Affairs Tharaka Balasuriya.

“The primary challenge lies in determining the exact number of individuals in Russia. As per unofficial sources, approximately 600-800 Sri Lankan individuals are in Russia,” he told reporters.

Tom Watling16 May 2024 13:30

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AP gets rare look as Ukraine tries to slow Russia with drones on new front

Tom Watling16 May 2024 13:00

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Maps show the state of Russia’s advance in the Kharkiv region

Updated maps published by Ukrainian war tracker DeepState have shown the state of Russia’s offensive in the northeast Kharkiv.

The attack began last Friday, at around 5.30am, and took place across two sectors.

In the first assault, Russian forces have advanced to the north and northwest suburbs of Vovchansk, a small city from where thousands of civilians have been evacuated. They have pushed roughly three and a half miles from the Russian border into the Kharkiv region, occupying nearly 22 square miles of territory.

Russia has advanced more than three miles from the border into the Kharkiv region towards Vovchanks – DeepState (DeepState )

In the second assault, Russian forces are advancing towards the village of Lyptsi, having taken Hlyboke and Lukiantsi yesterday. They have pushed nearly five miles from the Russian border into the Kharkiv region, occupying 31 square miles of territory.

Russian forces are pushing towards the village of Lyptsi, seen in the bottom of the screen, after six days of fighting – DeepState (DeepState )

That means that Russian forces are within artillery range of Kharkiv city, the region’s namesake capital, which is home to 1.3 million civilians.

Russia’s attack is taking place just 20 miles from Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv, home to some 1.3 million civilians – DeepState (DeepState )

Tom Watling16 May 2024 12:30

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