Ukraine war latest updates: 'Fierce fighting' raging in Kharkiv - as Russia claims it has taken multiple villages (2024)

Key points
  • Civilians being evacuated in Vovchansk, in Kharkiv, after Friday morning's surprise attack by Putin's military
  • Sky's Deborah Haynes witnesses terror in attacked town as evacuations under way
  • Analysis:Russia's attack in Kharkiv region not a complete surprise - but the force of it is
  • Russia says it downed Ukrainian rockets and drones overnight
  • Ed Conway:Russian oil still seeping into UK - the reasons why sanctions are not working
  • Live reporting by Jake Levison


Eyewitness: Flaming residential block sums up destruction in Vovchansk

Our security and defence editorDeborah Haynesis reporting to us from a residential area that was just hit by a Russian strike in Vovchansk.

She's standing by a block that's in flames and says local residents she's spoken to are scared the fire will spread to other residential blocks too.

One of the residents of the destroyed block, who had suffered injuries to her leg as a result of the explosion, spoke to Haynes.

"She doesn't know what to do - she's very confused," Haynes says. "This is a scene of chaos and terror."

She says the rest of the town is also "pretty much destroyed", adding explosions can still be heard nearby.


Fierce fighting ongoing in Kharkiv region, governor says

The Russian military is continuing its attacks in Kharkiv, the region's governor says.

Oleh Syniehubov said President Putin's troops were still trying to advance further after reportedly taking up to 1km yesterday.

The fierce fighting is raging across three villages near the Ukrainian border, he added.

His comments came shortly after Russia's defence ministry claimed its forces had taken five border villages in the Kharkiv region.

Ukraine is yet to directly comment on Russia's claims.


UK defence ministry says Russian fighter plane may have dropped a bomb in its own city

The UK's Ministry of Defence has highlighted reports suggesting a Russian fighter aircraft accidentally dropped a bomb on a civilian area in Belgorod.

The intelligence update relates to an incident on 4 May - not on the overnight drone strike in Belgorod we reported earlier.

Here's what the ministry said:

"It has been reported that a Russian fighter aircraft accidentally released a FAB-500 munition on a civilian area in Belgorod, Russia on 04 May 2024.

"The Belgorod Regional Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov confirmed the explosion and damage on Razdobarkina street, Belgorod without identifying the cause.

"30 houses and 10 cars were damaged, with five individuals requiring hospital care, illustrating the destructive power of the munition.

"This is not an isolated incident. On 18 February a FAB-250 was reportedly released on Soloti in the Belgorod area which led to the evacuation of 150 residents.

"Media outlets suggest that such discharges are fairly common with 20 lost munitions accidentally dropped in the Belgorod region alone between March to April 2024.

"These instances indicate Russia's continued inability to successfully employ their munitions on intended targets. Such errors have destructive and lethal consequences for the Russian population."


Russian troops have taken five settlements in Kharkiv region - Russian defence ministry

Russia's defence ministry says its forces have taken five border villages in Ukraine's Kharkiv region since its surprise attack began yesterday.

The ministry says Russian forces have taken the villages of Pletenivka, Ohirtseve, Borysivka, Pylna and Strilechna, all of which are directly on the border with Russia's Belgorod region.

In a briefing, it also said Russian troops have taken the village of Keramik in the eastern Donetsk region, where Moscow has made slow but steady advances in recent months.

Ukraine officials have not yet commented on the Russian defence ministry's claims.


Analysis: Russia's attack in Kharkiv region not a complete surprise - but the force of it is

Our military analyst Sean Bell has been looking at Russia's brutal offensive in Kharkiv, which has led to mass evacuations.

It's been described as a surprise attack - but Bell says Ukraine has been warning over a potential attack by Russia in the region for several months.

"So it wasn't a complete surprise," he says. "But this attack by Russia wasn't just a minor thing - it was a coordinated attack.

"They were using air power, so glide bombs, artillery shells, multi-launch rocket systems and infantry."

He says the attack was clearly designed to "probe Ukrainian defences" and Russia has now made advances, with between 30,000 and 50,000 troops in the area.

Why has Russia opened up a second front in the war?

While Bell says it's a question only President Putin could answer for certain, he believes there are two likely reasons for Russia's latest attack.

First, the Russian border town of Belgorod is a logistics hub for Russian military activity, and is regularly targeted by artillery from Ukrainian territory.

As you'll see from our previous post, Russia said Ukraine targeted Belgorod just last night, killing one man and injuring another in a drone attack.

President Putin has long promised to create a buffer zone to push Ukrainian forces out of artillery range, which would limit the attacks on this frontier town, Bell says.

Secondly, although most analysts believe Russia would struggle to seize Kharkiv, the attack does force Ukraine to spread its limited resources across a broader front, leaving it more vulnerable to further attacks, he adds.


One dead in Ukrainian drone strike in Russia's Belgorod region - governor

Earlier this morning we told you Russia said it downed 21 Ukrainian rockets and 16 drones overnight across its Belgorod, Kursk and Volgograd regions.

The governor of Russia's Belgorod region now says one man was killed and another injured after a Ukrainian drone hit a parked truck on the border village of Novostroyevka-Pervaya.

The Belgorod region borders Ukraine's Kharkiv region and has come under regular attack since the war began.


More than 1,700 Kharkiv residents evacuated

Kharkiv's regional governor has provided an update on Telegram this morning, where he's outlined how many civilians have fled their homes since Russia's attack yesterday.

Ukraine's second-largest city has seen a total of 1,775 people evacuate, Oleg Sinegubov said.

1,048 of those were from the Chuhuiv district, where Vovchansk is located. As we said earlier, Vovchansk has a population of around 3,000.

He said another 440 people were evacuated from the Kharkiv district, which encircles the city of Kharkiv, and 12 from Bohodukhiv district, located northwest of Kharkiv.

He added another 275 people were evacuated by volunteers across the region.


Terror, grief and rising smoke leave streets completely empty

By Deborah Haynes, security and defence editor

Smoke hung in the air on the road into the border town of Vovchansk in northeastern Ukraine after a surprise Russian offensive.

Woodland that frames the route had caught fire amid the heavy bombardments.

Sky News followed a rescue team as they raced into Vovchansk in a white van to help evacuate residents amid fears of a wider assault by Moscow.

The streets in the part of the town we entered were largely deserted.

We pulled into a residential road of bungalows.

Part the way down there was a group of five elderly residents, gathered around a bench. They did not appear to be in a hurry to flee, despite the danger and warnings from the authorities for the town's around 3,000 residents to leave.

Read more here...


Russia says it downed Ukrainian rockets and drones overnight

Moving away from the Russian offensive in Kharkiv for a moment.

Russia's defence ministry says it has repelled a string of Ukrainian attacks on its territory, using drones and rocket artillery.

In a statement posted on Telegram, the ministry said its forces had downed 21 rockets and 16 drones across Russia's Belgorod, Kursk and Volgograd regions.

Ukraine is yet to comment on the reported attack.


Fleeing civilians say they have 'never seen such a level of shelling'

People living in Vovchansk say despite the conflict continuing for over two years they've never seen anything like the barrage from drones, missiles, and artillery fire.

Its population of 3,000 have been evacuating the town, and its mayor Tamaz Gambarashvili reiterated they "haven't seen such a level of shelling".

Speaking directly to the Russian military, he said: "Enough killing people, enough destruction… You need to stop this war."

Here are some images showing residents on their way out of town yesterday.

Ukraine war latest updates: 'Fierce fighting' raging in Kharkiv - as Russia claims it has taken multiple villages (2024)
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