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Ukraine forced to retreat to stop bloodbath as fears mount Putin has made major breakthrou

Russia looks set to seize the pivotal Kharkiv towns of Lukyantsi and Vovchansk after an abrupt Ukrainian retreat. The Ukrainian military told the AFP that it withdrew soldiers in the towns “in response to enemy fire and assaults from ground troops, and to save the lives of our servicemen and avoid losses”.

Russia launched a surprise attack in Kharkiv on Friday, opening up a second front in its war with Ukraine. Moscow has since intensified its assault and seized at least nine villages in the region.

Thousands of Ukrainian civilians have fled towards the region’s capital, Kharkiv – Ukraine’s second-biggest city. Russia’s offensive in Kharkiv is seen as one of the most significant breakthroughs since its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022

Kharkiv regional head Oleh Syniehubov confirmed that nearly 6,000 people having already been evacuated in the region. He added that some 200-300 people remain in Vovchansk.

There are concerns among Ukrainian military leaders about what could happen if Russian troops get within artillery-range of Kharkiv city.

This comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was forced to abruptly cancel his trips abroad to Spain and Portugal “due to the difficult situation at the front”. He had planned to go to the Iberian Peninsula to discuss new supplies of military assistance to Ukraine, including air defense systems.

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