KHARKIV, UKRAINE, May 9 — Ukrainian authorities will prepare and respond to a potential Russian offensive north of Kharkiv and Kharkiv region. Currently, there are no grounds to announce an evacuation from the city, said Kharkiv Oblast Governor Oleh Syniehubov.

“Yes, the enemy is building a certain grouping of troops [in the north]. Next, we [Ukrainian authorities] will analyze in case of possible attacks from the north,” he said.

According to him, Ukrainian authorities are taking all the necessary measures to be prepared and counteract “challenges that may arise.” In particular, he emphasized that “there is no reason, even theoretical, to talk about evacuating Kharkiv.”

On May 5, analysts at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) stated that Russia had redeployed a battalion of the 76th Airborne Division to the Kursk region, preparing for a possible offensive in the northeastern territories of Ukraine, and Kharkiv in particular. However, the ISW believes they do not have enough forces to take the Ukrainian city.

Deputy chief of Ukrainian military intelligence agency Vadym Skibitskyi said in an interview with Economist, published on May 2, that Russian troops are preparing for an assault on the Kharkiv and Sumy regions, presumably at the end of May or in June 2024.

According to Skibitskyi, currently, Russians have 35,000 troops in their northern grouping “across from Kharkiv” and 514,000 land troops “committed to Ukraine operation” in general. For an assault, Skibitskyi says the grouping “is set to expand to between 50,000 and 70,000 troops.” However, even 70,000 Russian troops are “not enough,” in Skibitskyi’s opinion, to take a major city like Kharkiv.

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