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Ukraine: Kyiv partially halts Russian offensive in Kharkiv

Published May 17, 2024last updated May 17, 2024

Ukraine said their units have managed to stop Russian forces in Kharkiv, but Moscow said they would continue to advance. Kim Jong Un's sister said North Korea has not provided any arms to Russia. All the latest on DW:

A Ukrainian soldier carries a drone in a trench near Kharkiv.
Zelenskyy met with military leaders in Kharkiv city.Image: Inna Varenytsia/REUTERS
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

Ukrainian forces fought to stop the advance of Russian troops in the Kharkiv region, home to the second-largest city in Ukraine and located in the country's northeast.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the military sent reinforcements to the area.

Here's a look at the latest developments from Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Friday, May 17:

Skip next section Ukraine to resume consular services for men of fighting age
May 17, 2024

Ukraine to resume consular services for men of fighting age

Ukraine will resume providing consular services for fighting-age men living abroad on Saturday, Kyiv announced. The move comes a month after a suspension triggered an angry backlash.

The move, which affected passport applications, was seen as an attempt to force Ukrainian men to return home amid manpower shortages in the army.

The Foreign Ministry said it would resume consular services from Saturday, provided the men had up-to-date military papers.

Ukraine recently lowered the age at which men can be drafted from 27 to 25 and toughened penalties for those who dodge conscription.

Ukrainian men face consequences for draft dodging

Skip next section Russian guided bombs kill three, injure 28 in Kharkiv
May 17, 2024

Russian guided bombs kill three, injure 28 in Kharkiv

Russian guided bombs killed at least three people and injured 28 more in the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, Mayor Ihor Terekhov said on Telegram.

Regional Governor Oleh Syniehubov earlier put the death toll at two, with four of the injured in serious condition.

Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, and the surrounding region have long been the target of Russian attacks. The strikes have intensified in recent months, hitting civilian and energy infrastructure.

Meanwhile, a Ukrainian drone strike killed one person and injured another in the neighboring Russian region of Belgorod, regional Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said. 

Ukrainian army aims to disrupt Russia's supply lines

Skip next section Zelenskyy and Putin both question Macron's 'Olympic truce' proposal
May 17, 2024

Zelenskyy and Putin both question Macron's 'Olympic truce' proposal

The Ukrainian and Russian presidents both reacted hesitantly towards a potential cease-fire during the summer Olympics in Paris, France, proposed by Emmanuel Macron.

Both presidents said the other side might exploit the cease-fire to strenghten their position in the ongoing conflict.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy named the proposal "non-viable" and an opportunity for Russia to resupply its troops near the Ukrainian border. 

"Who will ensure that their forces do not advance towards us during a ceasefire?" Zelenskyy asked. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin reacted to Macron's idea, which was also raised by Chinese President Xi during his visit to Beijing, with similar skepticism.

Besides calling the proposal an opportunity for the Ukrainian army to regroup and restock, he also said it was unreasonable to demand Russia cease fire in the spirit of the Olympics when its participation in the event was also restricted.

Ukrainians walk past the headquarters of International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne, Switzerland, during a protest calling for Russian athletes to be excluded from the Games. The IOC instead permitted Russian athletes to compete under a neutral flag, provided that they have "not actively supported the war in Ukraine." File photo from March 25, 2023.
Calls for an outright ban on Russian competitors at the Olympics were not heeded, but restrictions are in place for the Summer Games in ParisImage: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

He said that the banning of the Russian flag, national anthem and banner at the Olympic Games constituted "violations against us" and "disobeying the principles of the Olympic Charter." 

Russian and Belarussian athletes can compete at the Olympics under a neutral flag, but not those with a military background or who have publicly supported the war against Ukraine.

Russia is already planning a rival sports event with ally Belarus.  

The Olympics take place in Paris, with the opening ceremony on July 26.

Skip next section Putin denies Kharkiv annexation plans, despite new strikes
May 17, 2024

Putin denies Kharkiv annexation plans, despite new strikes

Russian President Vladimir Putin during his China visit on Friday claimed there were no immediate plans to annex the Eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.  

He told Russian state media reporters that Moscow's attacks on Kharkiv were a response to recent shelling of Russia's Belgorod region, that has also killed civilians.

"If Ukraine's attacks continue" Russian troops will "establish a buffer zone," Putin said, describing the current offensive as an effort to do this.

The city of Kharkiv and surrounding areas also come under regular fire from positions in Belgorod in recent months.

On Friday, a Russian guided bomb killed two and wounded 13 people in the city of Kharkiv, governor Oleh Syniehubov wrote on his Telegram channel. All the wounded were civilians and four in critical condition, he said.

Since Russia launched its offensive on Kharkiv on May 10, thousands of Ukrainians have been displaced from the area. 

Skip next section EU bans 4 Russian broadcasters over propaganda, misinformation
May 17, 2024

EU bans 4 Russian broadcasters over propaganda, misinformation

The European Union says it is banning four more Russian media outlets from publishing or broadcasting in the 27-nation bloc for allegedly spreading propaganda about the invasion of Ukraine and disinformation

The move comes with Brussels particularly nervous ahead of European parliamentary elections in three weeks.

The latest batch of broadcasters consists of Voice of Europe, RIA Novosti, Izvestia and Rossiyskaya Gazeta, which the EU claims are under control of the Kremlin. 

The EU said in a statement that the four publications were in particular targeting "European political parties, especially during election periods."

Belgium already last month opened an investigation into suspected Russian interference in Europe-wide elections in June. The country said its intelligence service had confirmed the existence of a network trying to undermine support for Ukraine.

The Czech government has imposed sanctions on various individuals after the discovery of a pro-Russian influence operation there. The group allegedly approached members of the European Parliament and offered them money to promote Russian propaganda.

Skip next section Satellite images show destroyed Russian planes in Crimea
May 17, 2024

Satellite images show destroyed Russian planes in Crimea

Destroyed fighter jets at Belbek Airbase on Crimea.
Maxar technologies says this image shows three destroyed Russian fighter jets and a destroyed fuel facility at Belbek Airbase on occupied Crimea. Image: Maxar Technologies/AP Photo/picture alliance

US satellite tech company Maxar has provided images it says show the aftermath of a long-range weapon strike on Belbek air base near Sevastopol, Crimea.

In an apparent overnight attack two MiG-31 and a SU-27 fighter jet were destroyed on a runway — a nearby fuel facility was also hit, according to Maxar. 

The Russian defence ministry previously said that it had intercepted long-range ATACMS missiles and drones aimed at Russian military infrastructure in occupied Crimea on Wednesday and Thursday. However, it did not mention any hits on the Belbek airbase. 

Ukraine has yet to provide a statement on the attack. 

Skip next section Baerbock calls for more air defenses amid 'dramatic' situation in Kharkiv
May 17, 2024

Baerbock calls for more air defenses amid 'dramatic' situation in Kharkiv

Germany's foreign minister Annalena Baerbock urged for more international support of Ukraine's air defense on Friday before a European Council session in Strasbourg, France.

Despite an initiative by Germany that has provided Ukraine with an additional Patriot system with other partners delivering financial support and radar surveillance, Baerbock stressed that "this is not enough."

The foreign minister demanded mid- and long-range weapon systems for the Ukrainian army to fight off fresh Russian advances near Kharkiv. So far Chancellor Olaf Scholz has refused to supply Ukraine with Taurus long-range air-launched cruise missile system but the government is providing and does plan to provide other long-range weapons.

Ukraine's second largest city Kharkiv, which is 40 kilometers (29 miles) from the Russian border, is close enough for direct attacks from Russian territory. Some of the air defenses there were not effective, according to Baerbock.

"The situation is highly dramatic, not only with regard to Kharkiv, but also in many other places in Ukraine," she said. "We can clearly see how much Ukraine needs further support, especially in terms of air defense." 

How Ukraine's war became Germany's watershed moment

Skip next section Russia says it intercepted over 100 Ukrainian drones
May 17, 2024

Russia says it intercepted over 100 Ukrainian drones

The Russian Defense Ministry said its forces intercepted over 100 Ukrainian drones across the south of the country, the Black Sea and Russian-occupied Crimea overnight.

"Fifty-one UAVs were destroyed and intercepted over Crimea, 44 over the Krasnodar region, six over the Belgorod region and one over Kursk region", the ministry said.

Russian Naval forces also destroyed six drone boats in the Black Sea, it added.

Meanwhile, officials in Russia's southern Krasnodar region said that they had contained a fire at the Tuapse oil refinery that broke out after a Ukrainian drone attack.

An electrical substation in Sevastopol was also damaged, according to local governor Mikhail Razvozhaev.

"There will be isolated blackouts," he said. "In view of the situation, I made a decision to cancel classes in all schools, institutions of secondary vocational education and kindergartens."

Skip next section Ukrainian drone strike kills Russian mother and child, Belgorod governor says
May 17, 2024

Ukrainian drone strike kills Russian mother and child, Belgorod governor says

A Ukrainian drone strike killed a mother and her 4-year-old son while they were driving in a village along the Russian border in Belgorod, local authorities said.

One of the several drones fired at the region hit the family's car in the village of Oktyabrsky, killing the mother and child, said the regional Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov.

Gladkov said that the father, who was also in the car, suffered injuries but refused medical help as he was in shock.

Another drone hit a gas station at Bessonovka village, but it caused no casualties and the flames were extinguished, said Gladkov.

Skip next section North Korea: Kim's sister says no arms supplied to Russia
May 17, 2024

North Korea: Kim's sister says no arms supplied to Russia

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's influential sister Kim Yo Jong on Friday denied that her country had supplied arms to Russia. 

The KCNA state news agency quoted her saying a North Korea-Russia arms deal was the "most absurd theory" that does not deserve anyone's evaluation or interpretation. She called it a rumor spread by forces hostile to North Korea.

She also added her country's rocket launchers and missiles were meant for protection against South Korea, not for export.

Washington and Seoul had accused Pyongyang of sending weapons to Russia for its war against Ukraine. But North Korea has repeatedly denied these claims.

Ties between North Korea and Russia have strengthened recently as the two vowed to increase military cooperation after Kim's visit to Russia last September and a summit with President Vladimir Putin. 

Skip next section Ukraine says it has partially halted Russian advances in Kharkiv
May 17, 2024

Ukraine says it has partially halted Russian advances in Kharkiv

Ukrainian military officials on Thursday said their units have managed to partially halt Russian forces in the northeastern Kharkiv region, though a Moscow official claimed they would continue to keep going.

"Our task at the moment is to stabilize the front line," said Kharkiv Governor Oleg Synegubov. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said reinforcements had been sent to the area.

Zelenskyy met military leaders in Kharkiv city to assess the situation.

Ukraine's general staff said the Russian attempt to capture the town of Vovchansk in Kharkiv (5 kilometers, 3.1 miles from the Russian border) "have been foiled." Six people, including two medics, were injured by Russian cluster munitions during the day on Thursday.

Ukraine also accused Russia of executing citizens in the territory and of using some of them as a "human shield."

Around 8,000 people have evacuated from Vovchansk, which had a pre-war population of 17,000. This town has been the key fighting point since Russia launched an offensive on Kharkiv last week. Ukraine's forces have been outnumbered as they wait for weapons and ammunition from Western allies.

Moscow captured 278 square kilometers (107 square miles) of Ukrainian territory between May 9 and May 15, according to AFP news agency calculations based on data from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

However, the NATO military alliance said it does not believe Moscow will be able to make any major advances.

"The Russians don't have the numbers necessary to do a strategic breakthrough, we don't believe," US General Christopher Cavoli, NATO's supreme allied commander Europe, told reporters.

Ukraine battles Russian offensive in northeast

tg/sms (AP, AFP, DPA, Reuters)