UKRAINE, May 17 — Russia started an offensive on Kharkiv earlier than planned, after noticing Ukrainian troops regrouping, but they didn’t manage to break through Ukrainian defense, wrote Oleksandr Syrskyi, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, on his Telegram. 

“We understand that tough battles are ahead, and the enemy is preparing for them,” Syrskyi said.  

On May 10, Russia launched a new ground offensive north and northeast of the Kharkiv region, in Vovchansk and Lyptsi directions. 

“The enemy expanded a zone of active combat for nearly 70 kilometers [43 miles], trying to force us to deploy reserve brigades,” Syrskyi said. 

Military analysts and Ukrainian military assumed Russia’s main goal in a new offensive would be to stretch Ukrainian manpower and resources and force Ukraine to pull forces away from Chasiv Yar in Donetsk Oblast. 

Syrskyi noted that Russians are focusing the main effort on Strilecha—Lyptsi axis and on occupying Vovchansk. Then, they plan to “move to Bilyi Kolodiaz and extend the assault into our rear.” 

Map from May 16 shows the approximate movement of Russian troops on Vovchansk axis / Source:
Map from May 16 shows the approximate movement of Russian troops in Lypsi (left) and Vovchansk (right) directions in Kharkiv Oblast / Source:

Syrskyi also added that, during his visit to Vovchansk and border communities of Kharkiv region, he worked on a question of “efficiently using our advantage in attack [drones] in combination with electronic warfare tools and artillery.” 

He says he has also facilitated Ukrainian troops’ regrouping and worked on simplifying the supply system.  

On May 17, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on a briefing with journalists, “As of today, our Defense Forces have stabilized the Russians where they currently are. The deepest point of their advance is 10 kilometers [6,2 miles] [inside the Ukrainian territories — ed.]” 

Field report: Threat of reoccupation looms over Vovchansk as Russia launches new offensive on Kharkiv region. Gwara Media joined the evacuation mission on May 11 to talk to people who were leaving Vovchansk in the wake of the Russian assault on the city.  

Read more