At least five killed in Russian strikes on Ukraine’s Kharkiv

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Russian strikes on the eastern Ukraine city of Kharkiv killed at least five people, regional authorities said Thursday, in the latest aerial bombardment on the war-battered hub.

President t Volodymyr Zelenskyy described the attacks as “brutal” and said Russia was “taking advantage” of Ukraine’s lack of air defense systems to launch fatal attacks on towns and cities at his country’s frontier.

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The surrounding region of Kharkiv has become the latest flashpoint of the war after Russian forces launched a surprise ground offensive in the border territory this month forcing the evacuation of thousands of residents.

“Five people were killed and nine were wounded,” Kharkiv mayor Igor Terekhov said in a post on social media.

The regional governor however said six people had been killed in the barrage of more than a dozen projectiles and that as many as 16 were wounded.

Kharkiv, which is the second-largest city in Ukraine and lies just dozens of kilometers from the border with Russia, has been under persistent shelling since Moscow’s forces invaded in February 2022.

“Russian terrorists are taking advantage of the fact that Ukraine still lacks sufficient air defense protection,” Zelenskyy said on social media.

Ukrainian officials have been urging allies to send more air defenses and this week suggested that Western allies shoot down Russian missiles using systems deployed in their own countries.

Separately, the head of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region, which the Kremlin claims is part of Russian territory, said a 74-year-old man was killed by Russian shelling on the village of Mala Tokmachka.

Russian forces have in recent weeks made their biggest territorial gains in the war-battered east as Ukraine waits for desperately needed US and European weapon supplies.

The advances in Kharkiv have forced nearly 11,000 people to flee their homes since Moscow launched its ground assault on May 10, regional officials said Thursday.

Russian authorities meanwhile said that Ukrainian attacks on the border region of Belgorod and in the occupied Ukrainian region of Donetsk left two dead.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said his army launched the offensive in Kharkiv to create a buffer zone that would protect Russian border villages from Ukrainian attacks.

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