Putin accuses Ukraine of provoking Russian troops' advance on Kharkiv, denies plans to capture the city

Russian president Vladimir Putin has accused Ukraine of provoking the advance of Russian troops in the Kharkiv region. However, he has stated that Russia has no immediate plans to capture Kharkiv.

"It's ultimately their fault. The authorities in Kyiv came to power through a coup. Furthermore, by allowing this coup, their Western sponsors turned a smouldering conflict into a military one. They're to blame. They're trying to shift the responsibility from their sick head to a healthy one. Regarding what's happening around Kharkiv, this is also their fault because they have been shelling and continue to shell Belgorod," Putin said during a briefing in China.

He particularly took issue with what he described as "shelling of civilian areas," neglecting the fact that the Russian army has razed several Ukrainian cities, such as Mariupol, Bakhmut, and Mariinka, destroying them with little regard for civilian casualties. Additionally, Russian forces have systematically bombarded other Ukrainian towns.

"I have publicly stated that if this continues (the shelling of Belgorod), we will be forced to create a security zone," Putin added.

"As for Kharkiv, Russia currently has no plans to capture it," he asserted.

On May 16th, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces announced that Ukrainian Defence Forces had thwarted the Russian plans to penetrate deeply into the urban area of Vovchansk and gain foothold there. Russian troops have been also trying to gain tactical advantage in the Lukyantsy area.

Recently, the head of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, Kyrylo Budanov, suggested that the Russian advance on Kharkiv region may stop within a few days after which Russian troops may redirect their focus to Sumy.

  War in Ukraine, Putin, Kharkiv, Vovchansk