At least four civilians were killed and many more were injured today by a bombardment by Russian forces in town Kharkov in northeastern Ukrainesaid the local governor, while the Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine Ghana Maliar said that the fighting against the Russian military forces in eastern Ukraine has reached “maximum intensity” and the governor of Luhansk province warns of tension.
“The occupiers are bombing the regional center again,” Kharkiv regional governor Oleg Sinegubov wrote in the Telegram, urging residents to go to shelters.
He did not immediately say which buildings or parts of the city were hit. However, according to a French Agency reporter, a residential area in the Pavlove Pole area, north of the city, was affected.
As of mid-May, the situation in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, remains relatively calm, as Ukrainian forces recaptured territory on the outskirts of the city and repulsed Russian troops.
The city’s subway reopened on Tuesday, and authorities asked hundreds of people using the subway as a shelter from Russian bombing to leave the wagons.
However, many residents are still afraid to return to their homes, and a Reuters correspondent in Kharkov said today that he heard explosions as Russian forces fortified and controlled their positions in villages north of the city.
“The fighting has reached its peak and we have a long and extremely difficult stage ahead of us,” said Ghana Maliar, Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister, during a press conference.
At the same time, the governor of Luhansk region, one of the two areas where Donbas is the scene of fierce fighting, also warned of intense fighting.
“The task is extremely difficult in the Luhansk region because we are in three months of constant attacks, continuous bombing and now all the Russian forces have deployed here and we have to reduce this horde,” he told the Telegram in a video this morning.
According to him, many Ukrainian military infrastructures have been destroyed and “little by little our children are retreating to more fortified positions.”
“It is very difficult for our children (including Ukrainian soldiers). Extremely difficult. “But they are holding on.”
After failing to occupy Kyiv, Russian forces have been focusing since April on eastern Ukraine, which has been partially controlled by pro-Russian separatists since 2014.
Asked about the situation in Kyiv, Maliar also said that the threat was still hovering. “Because the destruction of Kiev and the overthrow of the Ukrainian government is the fastest way to conquer Ukraine. “We must live with the idea that this threat will always be with us,” he said.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko also stressed today, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, that he “can not give security guarantees” to the capital’s residents who had left the city and decided to relocate there.
A senior Ukrainian military official also admitted that Russia currently has the upper hand in the fighting in Luhansk.
“Russia has the advantage, but we are doing what we can,” said General Oleksay Gromov.
Gromov also said that Ukraine was observing Russia moving Iskander missile systems to the western Brest region of Belarus, which Gromov said increased the likelihood of new missile strikes in western Ukraine.