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10 km out of Russian border: What is happening in Vovchansk and threat for northern Kharkiv region

10 km out of Russian border: What is happening in Vovchansk and threat for northern Kharkiv region Photo: Situation escalated sharply in Kharkiv region (Getty Images)

Russian troops have intensified shelling in the north of the Kharkiv region overnight. Vovchansk, which is less than 10 kilometers out of the Russian border, came under fire in the first place, with evacuation underway. The military confirms that the Russian forces are trying to break through the defense of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, but the enemy attacks are being repelled.

Read more about what is happening in the north of the Kharkiv region and how threatening the situation is in the RBC-Ukraine report.

Sources: head of the Kharkiv Regional Military Administration Oleh Syniehubov, Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, head of the Center for Countering Disinformation of the National Security and Defense Council Andrii Kovalenko, map on deepstatemap, a comment of head of the Vovchansk CMA Tamaz Gambarashvili to Hromadske Radio, as well as an exclusive comment by a military expert, former spokesman for the General Staff Vladyslav Seleznov.


Vovchansk on fire, evacuation: What is happening

According to the head of the Kharkiv region, Oleh Syniehubov, the powerful shelling lasted all night. The enemy fired from multiple rocket launchers and artillery and also dropped guided aerial bombs. First of all, the enemy has been striking Vovchansk. He also said there were unsuccessful attempts of the subversive groups to break through the border.

"Ukrainian Armed Forces are holding their positions: not a single meter has been lost. The enemy group does not pose a threat to Kharkiv, its forces are only enough for provocations in the northern direction. All authorities are working on the ground and fulfilling their duties," wrote Syniehubov.

He also called on civilians in the border settlements to take shelter, as it makes no difference to the enemy whether they strike at military infrastructure or unarmed civilians.

Meanwhile, local authorities have reported evacuations from Vovchansk and nearby settlements over massive shelling. Tamaz Gambarashvili, the head of the Vovchansk CMA, told Hromadske Radio that most people were leaving by their own transport. The humanitarian center has organized transportation for those who do not have cars.

"Locals say they have never seen such a shelling before. That is why it is dangerous to be in Vovchansk now. Since 3 in the morning, there have been flying GABs, artillery, and MLRS attacks," Gambarashvili said, adding that there is no information about the dead and wounded, but there is information about massive destruction.

Is there a threat of capturing Vovchansk

Vladyslav Seleznov, a military expert and former spokesman for the General Staff, believes that the enemy is now trying to find Ukraine's defense weakness in the north of the Kharkiv region. This is the purpose of such raids or combat reconnaissance.

"Borysivka, Pylna, Krasne, Hoptivka, Strilecha, Hatyshche. The enemy tried to push forward there, attacking our defenders. I think this is a kind of reconnaissance by combat. But the unpleasant thing is that the enemy is actively using electronic warfare systems to lessen our capabilities of radio reconnaissance and communication, and is also actively using UAVs to have situational awareness," Seleznov said.

According to him, another unpleasant thing is that the commander of the enemy's 6th army, which organizes attacks in this area of the front, is Serhii Storozhenko.

"He is a former commander of the 36th Coastal Defense Brigade of the Ukrainian Navy, a Ukrainian traitor. He is a native of the Kharkiv region and the Kremlin puts him at the head of the army, which aims to take control of at least the northern part of the Kharkiv region, or perhaps in the future the city of Kharkiv. This is a kind of evil irony," Seleznov said.

According to the expert, Vovchansk is well fortified, but control over this settlement depends on what resources the Russian military is ready to attack with and how many corpses of their soldiers they are willing to leave in the suburbs.

"We have certain defense lines and positions near Vovchansk. The enemy tried to make infantry assaults, got a slap, suffered losses and retreated... It is very difficult to predict anything now. In fact, we are only seeing the beginning of the process when the enemy intensifies its actions in the north of the Kharkiv region," explains Selezniov.

Why escalation in the north of Kharkiv region is dangerous

The interactive online map of hostilities has already shown a gray zone in the north of the Kharkiv region. It currently covers 5.93 square kilometers. Deepstatemap analysts report that Russian troops are conducting assault operations near Pletenivka and along the Strilecha-Borysivka line.

10 km out of Russian border: What is happening in Vovchansk and threat for northern Kharkiv regionPhoto: A gray zone appeared in the north of the Kharkiv region (

The image below shows one of the results of the Russian offensive. According to preliminary data, three pieces of equipment were burned to the north of Morokhovets-Oliynykove. The Russian troops were moving from the direction of Pylna.

10 km out of Russian border: What is happening in Vovchansk and threat for northern Kharkiv region

Photo: The Armed Forces of Ukraine have already destroyed three units of Russian equipment during the attempt to break through in the north of the Kharkiv region (

The Ministry of Defense has also issued an official statement confirming the increased fire pressure with the support of artillery on the front line of Ukrainian defense. The ministry says that the Russian army tried to break through the Ukrainian defense but to no avail.

"At approximately 5 am, the enemy attempted to break through our defense line under the cover of armored vehicles. As of now, these attacks have been repelled, and fighting of varying intensity continues. Reserve units have been deployed to strengthen the defense in this area of the front. The Ukrainian Defense Forces continue to hold back the enemy's offensive," the Defense Ministry said.

Expert Seleznov names the likely goal of Putin's troops. In his opinion, Russia aims to force Ukraine to move some of its forces here.

"I think that is to force the Ukrainian General Staff to send part of our strategic reserves here instead of other areas that are extremely important for us," he suggests.

What is next

According to the expert, given the fact that the Ukrainian army has received some artillery ammunition over the past few days, and thus has greater capabilities, the soldiers are now actively fighting against enemy assault units. Besides, Ukrainian kamikaze drone operators are now actively working.

"The point is that basically, all attempts to cross the border, attack, and gain a foothold have been in vain. They suffered losses and fled. Will the enemy stop there? No. I am sure they will continue to search our lines and positions," the source said.

But there is bad news for the enemy. The expert stresses that for several months in a row, a fairly powerful Ukrainian network of engineering fortifications has been constructed in the north of the Kharkiv region.

"The first line is located about 10 kilometers out of the state border. These are approximate figures from open sources. This means that the enemy will face resistance when trying to move deeper into our territory. So I think they have no chance. The more the Ukrainian army receives additional weapons and military equipment, the more stable our defense will be. This means that the Russian troops will suffer incredible losses, but they are unlikely to gain any territorial gains," Seleznov said.

He notes that although the first attacks in the north of the Kharkiv region were repelled, the aggressor is likely to continue to step up its efforts to cause a lot of trouble. The key element that will determine how well everything goes is the resources available for Ukraine.

Potential threat of advancing on Kharkiv

The expert adds that there is currently no threat of a Russian offensive on Kharkiv.

"First of all, the enemy, who is operating in the south of the Belgorod region, has 31,000 troops. This is not enough to conduct a meaningful and effective attack on Kharkiv with the purpose of occupation. The enemy needs at least 6 times, and possibly even 10 times, more troops in this area of the front to succeed. But the city is in danger because of constant attacks by missiles and drones," Seleznov said.

At the same time, the expert stresses that it is worth preparing for further Russian attacks in the border area in the north of the Kharkiv region.

"I would also recommend working proactively. It is clear that if the enemy attacks from the south of the Belgorod region (Shebekinsky district), we need to launch our own UAVs, look for places where enemy personnel and armored vehicles are concentrated, and attack them. To destroy the enemy on his land while the columns are still forming," Seleznov said.

Earlier, the head of the Center for Countering Disinformation of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, Lieutenant Andrii Kovalenko, said that the enemy's actions on the border were predictable and the Russian military had the resources to escalate the situation. But, according to him, it is important not to confuse it with the ability to capture Kharkiv, which is excluded. The National Security and Defense Council warns that there will be a lot of fakes on this topic in the media.

Read more about the situation on the frontline in RBC-Ukraine's new report "Gray zone expanding: Where Russia advancing and how Ukraine can hold line".