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Ukraine updates: Kyiv withdraws some forces around Kharkiv

Published May 15, 2024last updated May 15, 2024

Ukraininan forces have pulled back from villages in Kharkiv as Russian troops advance. Meanwhile, Russia said it shot down Ukrainian missiles over Crimea. DW has the latest.

 A view of debris from a destroyed building on a residential area following Russian missile attack
Image: Anadolu/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

Kyiv said that it has withdrawn some of its forces around the Kharkiv border region where Russian troops have been advancing since last week.

Meanwhile, Russia has said it shot down 10 Ukrainian ATACMS missiles over the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula.

Here's a look at the latest developments from Russia's war in Ukraine on Wednesday, May 15:

Skip next section Zelenskyy: Ukrainian forces 'partially stabilize' Kharkiv situation
May 15, 2024

Zelenskyy: Ukrainian forces 'partially stabilize' Kharkiv situation

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said that Ukrainian forces have "managed to partially stabilize the situation in the Kharkiv region," where Russia claims to have captured a handful of villages and opened up a new front.

In his daily evening address, Zelenskyy said "the occupiers who have entered the Kharkiv region are being destroyed with all means. Our artillery, drones, and infantry are all operating with accuracy. I want to thank everyone who is in position right now.

"We can clearly see how the occupiers are attempting to stretch our forces thin and make our combat work less concentrated. We react appropriately: in every direction, we must have the means to respond to the enemy."

On Tuesday night, the Ukrainian military said it had withdrawn troops from several villages on the Russian border to what it said were "more advantageous positions."

Some local residents, observers and even Ukrainian soldiers had criticized Kyiv's lack of preparedness and inability to fend off the surprise Russian attack in the region.

Skip next section Zelenskyy and Putin both express support for Slovakia's Fico
May 15, 2024

Zelenskyy and Putin both express support for Slovakia's Fico

Both Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin have issued messages of support for Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico, who is reportedly in "life-threatening condition" in hospital after being shot in what his office called an "assassination attempt" on Wednesday afternoon.

Expressing "solidarity with the people of Slovakia," Zelenskyy called the attack "appalling" and said: "We strongly condemn this act of violence against our neighboring partner state's head of government. Every effort should be made to ensure that violence does not become the norm in any country, form, or sphere."

Russian President Putin sent a telegram to outgoing Slovakian President Zuzana Caputova in which he wished Fico "a speedy and full recovery."

"There can be no justification for this monstrous crime," he wrote. "I know Robert Fico as a courageous and strong-minded man. I very much hope that these qualities will help him to survive this difficult situation."

The messages of support from both Kyiv and Moscow reflected Bratislava's complicated and ambiguous position in European geopolitics.

Slovakia is, on the one hand, a European Union and NATO member which has provided substantial military aid to Ukraine since the full-scale Russian invasion in February 2022. Fico once hailed Slovakia's adoption of the euro currency as a "significant historic decision."

But with many Slovakians holding fond memories of the perceived security of their Soviet past, Fico won his latest term as Prime Minister after running a populist campaign during which he called his pro-western opponents "warmongers" and pledged not to send "a single bullet" to Kyiv.

He has called on Ukraine to cede territory to Russia in order to end the war and has said that he would not have Putin arrested under an international warrant if he visited Slovakia.


Skip next section Blinken in Kyiv: US pledges $2 billion in military aid
May 15, 2024

Blinken in Kyiv: US pledges $2 billion in military aid

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in Kyiv on Wednesday amid Russian advances, especially along the northern frontline.

During a press conference with his counterpart Dmytro Kuleba, Blinken said that the US would provide a further $2 billion (€1.85 billion) to help against the new wave of Russian attacks.

US Congress recently approved a $61 billion military aid package for Ukraine.

Blinken said Wednesday's announced package would be "to provide weapons today" as well as to invest in infrastructure that would help Ukraine purchase military equipment from other countries.

Kuleba called for more air defense systems and for a more rapid delivery of weapons.

Skip next section Russia says it shot down Ukrainian ATACMS over Crimea
May 15, 2024

Russia says it shot down Ukrainian ATACMS over Crimea

The Russian Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that its forces in Crimea had shot down 10 US-produced ATACMS missiles that were launched by Ukraine.

Ukraine did not immediately confirm the missile attacks, but a US official has recently confirmed that ATACMS missiles were already in the hands of Ukrainian forces, according to Reuters.

The Russian-installed governor in the city of Sevastopol said on Telegram that the debris from the strikes fell onto a residential area, but that nobody was injured.

Russia illegally occupied the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in 2014, eight years before launching the full-scale invasion of its smaller neighbor.

The Defense Ministry also said that nine Ukrainian attack drones were shot down over the Belgorod region, close to the Russian border with Ukraine's Kharkiv region.

Skip next section Zelenskyy cancels planned visit to Spain and Portugal
May 15, 2024

Zelenskyy cancels planned visit to Spain and Portugal

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called off a planned trip to Spain and Portugal as Russian forces advance around Kharkiv.

The Spanish royal household removed a meeting between Zelenskyy and Spanish King Felipe VI from Friday's agenda.

Spanish newspaper El Pais reported that the Ukrainian president had also planned to meet with Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. The two were expected to sign a bilateral agreement on security guarantees, similar to agreements signed with the UK, Germany, and Canada, among others.

Skip next section Russia says it captured several Ukrainian villages
May 15, 2024

Russia says it captured several Ukrainian villages

Russian forces said on Wednesday that they had captured two villages in Kharkiv and a village in Zaporizhzhia.

The Defense Ministry said the villages of Hlyboke and Lukiantsi, north of the city of Kharkiv and close to the Russian border, were in Russian hands.

This could not be independently verified, however, the announcement came several hours after Kyiv said it had withdrawn troops from the same area.

The ministry also said the village of Robotyne in Zaporizhzhia region had been captured.

Robotyne was one of the villages that Ukrainian forces took back from Russian troops during its summer counteroffensive last year.

Kharkiv: Ukraine evacuates thousands from border towns

Skip next section Ukraine says it has withdrawn troops in several areas of Kharkiv region
May 15, 2024

Ukraine says it has withdrawn troops in several areas of Kharkiv region

Ukrainian authorities said on Tuesday night that forces had been pulled back from several frontline villages in eastern Kharkiv as the Russian military continues to advance in the region.

"In some areas, around Lukyantsi and Vovchansk, in response to enemy fire and assaults from ground troops, and to save the lives of our servicemen and avoid losses, our units maneuvered and moved to more advantageous positions," the Ukrainian military said.

Russian forces have been pushing forward along parts of Kharkiv's border since last week.

ab/rc (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)