Russia launches ground assault on Ukraine's Kharkiv

Thousands of troops tried to break through Ukranian defences near the border before they were stopped. ITV News Correspondent John Ray explains the significance

Russia has attempted to launch a ground offensive on the Ukrainian region of Kharkiv in the latest progression of the more than two-year war.

Overnight, shelling targeted Vovchansk, in the Kharkiv region and less than three miles from the Russian border, regional Governor Oleh Syniehubov said.

The attack killed at least one person and injured five others, prompting authorities to begin the evacuation of about 3,000 people.

By the early hours of the morning, Russian infantry tried to penetrate Ukrainian defences near Vovchansk, Ukraine’s Defence Ministry confirmed, adding that it had deployed reserve units to fend off the attack.

Ukraine had previously said it was aware that Russia was assembling thousands of troops along the northeastern border, close to the Kharkiv and Sumy regions.

While the Kremlin’s forces launched their most recent ground offensive in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian intelligence officials said they expected the Kremlin’s forces to attack in the northeast too.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Ukraine's military had anticipated the attack and had calibrated its response.

“Now there is a fierce battle in this direction,” Zelenskyy was quoted as saying by Ukraine’s public broadcaster Suspilne.

Though Russia likely can’t capture Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, it could compel Ukraine to send more troops to the region, leaving other areas more vulnerable to attack.

Also, forcing Ukrainian authorities to evacuate civilians is likely to create disruption and divert resources.

Ukraine’s army pushed the Kremlin’s forces out of Kharkiv in the autumn of 2022, recapturing the region seven months after Russia’s full-scale invasion.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know…