The Russian Defense Ministry has confirmed an offensive by its troops in the border area with the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. Russian troops have occupied five Ukrainian border villages, the ministry announced in Moscow on Saturday. Striletsche, Krasne, Pylne and Borysivka, which are about 30 kilometers north of Kharkiv near the town of Lipzy, were mentioned, as well as Ohirtseve near the city of Vovchansk. According to the Russian interpretation, the residents of these “liberated” towns were taken to safe assembly points.

This information corresponds to unofficial Ukrainian military information about the offensive that began on Friday night. The Russian army claimed to have eliminated a large number of Ukrainian soldiers and destroyed their technology. The Ukrainian side, in turn, spoke of having blocked the Russian attacks and inflicted heavy losses on the enemy. There was no independent confirmation of either side’s claims.

In Moscow it was said that 34 Ukrainian soldiers had been captured. The number could not be confirmed. Images of some suspected soldiers were published on Russian Telegram channels, even though this is prohibited under international humanitarian law.

Zelensky: Russian offensive must be stopped

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has declared crushing Russia’s latest offensive in the east of the country as “task number one.” “Completing this task depends on every soldier, every non-commissioned officer and every officer,” said Zelensky in his evening video address. “Our troops have been carrying out counterattacks there for two days to defend Ukrainian territory,” said Zelensky, describing the situation. The Ukrainian military leadership has already sent reinforcements towards Kharkiv.

“The destruction of Russia’s offensive plans is now task number one,” said Zelensky, his motto for the next few days and weeks. It’s about destroying Russian equipment and “neutralizing” the Russian occupiers. “The occupier must feel that it will not be easy for him anywhere in Ukraine.”

Ukraine expected Russian attack near Kharkiv

The Ukrainian authorities said they brought many residents of the border area to safety. Ukraine had been expecting a Russian attack near Kharkiv for some time. According to official information, their defense lines are holding. According to military observers, the Russian offensive is not yet a direct attack on Kharkiv.

The Russian army wants to tie down Ukrainian troops and at the same time advance its howitzers and cannons so far that they can shell the city. In addition, the front shift is intended to prevent Ukrainian attacks across the border into Russian territory.

Ukraine has been fending off a Russian invasion for more than two years. According to President Volodymyr Zelenskyj, in order to successfully repel the latest major attack, the country needs further support from abroad. “At the moment, every anti-aircraft system and missile delivered is a contribution that saves lives and keeps our cities and towns alive,” he wrote on Facebook on Saturday. “What really helps is actual weapons delivered to Ukraine, not just the announcement of them Weapon packs.”

Ukrainian drone attack on Russian refinery

The Ukrainian military said it attacked a refinery in the city of Volgograd – formerly Stalingrad – with combat drones on Saturday night. According to the military intelligence service in Kiev, several facilities at the refinery belonging to the oil giant Lukoil were hit and damaged. The Defense Ministry in Moscow contradicted these reports. Rather, several Ukrainian drones and missiles were intercepted near Belgorod and Volgograd.

Poland wants to strengthen its eastern border

Poland wants to strengthen its eastern border. Prime Minister Donald Tusk justified this on Saturday with the pressure that the regime in neighboring Belarus is creating through organized migration and the growing danger from Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.

“We have started intensive work on a modern fortification to be built along the entire Polish eastern border,” Tusk told border guards and soldiers in Karakule on the Polish-Belarusian border. Since Poland’s eastern border is also the EU’s external border, the entire international community must invest in fortification.

As early as the summer of 2022, Poland secured the land sections of its 418-kilometer-long border with Belarus with a 5.5-meter-high fence and an electronic surveillance system. Poland’s Defense Minister Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz recently said his country would build bunkers and trenches on its border with Belarus and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.