Russia has no plans to capture Kharkiv: Putin

Sunday, 19 May 2024

KYIV, May 18 (AP/AFP): Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday during a visit to China that Moscow's offensive in Ukraine's northeastern Kharkiv region aims to create a buffer zone but that there are no plans to capture the city.
The remarks were Putin's first on the offensive launched May 10, which opened a new front and displaced thousands of Ukrainians within days. Earlier Friday, a massive Ukrainian drone attack on the Russia-occupied Crimean Peninsula cut off power in the city of Sevastopol, after an earlier attack damaged aircraft and fuel storage at an airbase.
In southern Russia, Russian authorities said a refinery was also set ablaze.
Moscow launched attacks in the Kharkiv region in response to Ukrainian shelling of Russia's Belgorod region, Putin told reporters while visiting the Chinese city of Harbin.
"I have said publicly that if it continues, we will be forced to create a security zone, a sanitary zone," he said. "That's what we are doing." Russian troops were "advancing daily according to plan," he said and added there were no plans for now to take the city of Kharkiv.
Ukrainian troops are fighting to halt Russian advances in the Kharkiv region that began late last week. In an effort to increase troop numbers, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed two laws Friday, allowing prisoners to join the army and increasing fines for draft dodgers fivefold. The controversial mobilization law goes into effect on Saturday.
Zelensky urges
China to attend
peace summit
in Switzerland
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in an interview with AFP on Friday urged China and countries of the Global South to participate in a peace summit in Switzerland next month.
The Swiss government announced that it would host a high-level peace conference for Ukraine in mid-June, but said Russia would not attend.
Uncertainty surrounds the presence of China, which has said "a lot of work" would need to be done before the conference.
Chinese leaders believe that "if Russia loses the war... it is a victory for the United States," Zelensky said.