As of May 16, the front lines in Ukraine resemble a zigzag line. It follows the line west of Izyum – west of Balakleya – east of Chuguev – northwest of Volchansk. Clashes are reported in the village of Rubizhne located to the north of Stary Saltov, in Liptsy, near Cossack Lopan. The Armed Forces of Ukraine have recently reached the Russian border in several areas north of the city of Kharkiv. They are currently moving towards the border town of Volchansk on the Ukrainian territory.
Another important battlefield in the Kharkiv region remains the area of Chuguev. The front lines have remained unchanged. The Russian units hold their positions along the Primorskoye — Grakovo — Balakleya line. The Russian missiles are striking at the AFU military positions in the city, including the military airfield nearby. An offensive operation of the Ukrainian military from Chuguev may threaten the rears of the Russian grouping deployed in the Izyum area.
On May 15, Ukrainian fighters of the 227th battalion of the 127th brigade of the Kharkiv Territorial Defense Forces reportedly went to the border with Russia. Information about this was confirmed in the Ministry of Defense, and the soldiers themselves recorded from the border area an appeal to the President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky. The video recorded by the Ukrainian servicemen was mostly another PR campaign as it is clear that there were no clashes in the area. Nevertheless, it has a great impact on the Ukrainian and Russian public.
“Mr. President! Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine! We report. Today, May 15, the 227th Battalion of the 127th Brigade of the Territorial Defense of Ukraine has reached the border, the border, the dividing line with the Russian Federation, with the occupant country. We made it! We are here, there is a border guard with us,” said the battalion commander.
The mayor of Kharkiv, Igor Terekhov, told the BBC that Russian troops are withdrawing from Ukraine’s second-largest city. The Russian military did not enter the city, but held the positions on the city’s outskirts.
According to Terekhov, Kharkiv had not been shelled for five days. During that time, Russian troops made only one attempt to launch a missile at the Kharkiv airport, but it was shot down by Ukrainian air defense forces.
“The Russians constantly shelled Kharkiv because they were very close to the city. And thanks to the efforts of the territorial defense and the AFU, they moved far away from the city in the direction of the Russian border,” Terekhov said. – Now it’s quiet in Kharkiv, people are already returning to the city.”
However, the claims of the mayor were denied by local residents, who massively commented on the social media warning that there was still daily shelling in some districts of the city, especially the Severnays Saltovka district, warning civilians against returning to their homes.
The tactical withdrawal of Russian forces from the region has recently slowed down, and the Russian units managed to carry out some counter attacks. On May 15, Russian artillery attacked AFU positions near the town of Dergachi located on the northern outskirts of the city of Kharkiv.
In turn, the AFU general staff reported that the Russian military has not carried out any active operations in the Kharkiv direction, as its main efforts are concentrated on the withdrawal of troops from Kharkiv and retaining the occupied positions and supply routes. Earlier, the general staff of the AFU claimed that the Russian army focused its efforts “on countering the Ukrainian counterattack towards the border and preserving its supply lines to the north and east of Kharkiv.”
However, the AFU also suffer some difficulties and their advance in the Kharkiv region has almost stopped, amid the Russian advance on the Donbass front lines. In the last two days, the Ukrainian mobilized units fighting near Kharkov were redeployed in order to support the 30th and 56th Mechanized Brigades of the AFU, which suffered significant losses during the fighting in the Donbas.
The retreat of the Russian units from the Kharkiv outskirts allowed the AFU to deploy missile systems close to the Russian border.
The US-made M142 HIMARS have been reportedly spotted near Kharkiv for several days in a row, but the claims are yet to be provided with any footage from the spot.
More foreign weapons were discovered by the Russian Guards in the Ukrainian positions near Kharkiv. they included:
- Polish RPG-75 anti-tank grenade launchers;
- American Javelin ATGMs;
- Czech RPG-76 anti-tank grenade launchers;
- Swedish AT4 anti-tank grenade launchers;
- British ATGM NLAWs;
- Ukrainian semi-automatic self-loading rifle Zbroyar Z-15 (hunting and sports carbine).
As a result of the Russian retreat, the shelling of Russian territory by the AFU continues.
The settlement of Sereda in the Shebekinsky urban district near Belgorod was shelled from the territory of Ukraine, according to the regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov. One civilian was injured and received a shrapnel wound.
So far, the shelling in the Belgorod region has damaged 280 homes, local authorities said. There were also 85 vehicles damaged, including agricultural equipment, cars, and trucks. The most affected objects are in the Belgorod district.
Ukrainian troops are shelling the Belgorod region on a daily basis. The city of Belgorod is one of the main targets. However, the Russian air defence systems are intercepting almost all the attacks over the city.
In response to the recent attacks, at least 4 rockets were launched from Belgorod towards Ukraine on May 16.
At this point, the variable successes of both armies in the Kharkiv direction can be noted. On the one hand, the AFU army reached the border with Russia, repelled Russian soldiers from the city of Kharkiv, deployed US rocket launchers. The war may reach the Russian soil.
However, the Ukrainian victories in this direction risk to turn into another media victory rather than a strategic success. The both sides have not enough forces in the region to carry out a decisive blow, and they both are actively transferring their forces from the Kharkiv region to the Donbass front lines. The Russian army’s lull can be characterized by a reorientation in logistical and strategic matters. So far, the Ukrainian soldiers have reached the Russian territory in several small areas, that are not enough for any massive assault on the Russian military facilities in Russia. The efforts of the small Russian-led grouping remaining in the Kharkiv region still matter. However, the further developments should not exclude the Ukraine’s attack on the Russian territory.
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