Ukrainian Forces repel Russian advance in Kharkiv, concerns loom over potential second wave

Ukrainian forces successfully halted an advance by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in the Kharkiv region. However, there are concerns that the Russians may launch a second wave of attacks, said Oleksiy Hetman, a retired major of the National Guard of Ukraine and a veteran of the Russo-Ukrainian War, during an interview with FREEДОМ TV. Hetman noted that the Russian forces chose Kharkiv and Sumy directions to bring their artillery within targeting range of these cities. "The goal is to turn these cities into grey zones or at least keep them under artillery fire," he said.

Hetman pointed out that the Russian forces likely did not intend to capture or encircle Kharkiv and Sumy with the forces they had. The size of the Russian grouping in the Kharkiv direction was similar to what was previously seen in Avdiivka. "If it took considerable time to capture smaller Avdiivka, it's unlikely they planned to take or encircle Kharkiv and Sumy," Hetman explained. He added that the offensive actions in the Kharkiv region appeared to be hurried, potentially due to "purges" within the Russian Ministry of Defence. Mid- and high-ranking commanders might have sought to prove their usefulness to President Vladimir Putin and the army to avoid dismissal or criminal charges.

Hetman asserted that the Russian forces failed to establish a so-called "sanitary zone." The Russians set up two beachheads along the front line at distances of 13-15 kilometres and 3-5 kilometres in depth, which may indicate intentions to expand their positions. According to Hetman, combining these lines would cover around 40 kilometres — an area adequate for division-level attacks, though only sufficient forces are being brought in for such maneuvers. Moreover, unconfirmed reports suggest that the Russian military has deployed not only conscripts and contract soldiers but also recruits at these locations.

Hetman is convinced that the Russians are preparing or may have already started a second wave of the offensive. Nevertheless, they understand that capturing a large city like Kharkiv with the current forces is impractical. On 13 June, Andriy Kovalenko, head of the Centre for Countering Disinformation, stated that the Russian military's plans in the north had been thwarted. He noted that the enemy is attempting to fortify positions along the border. Analysts from the Institute for the Study of War reported on 12 May that the number of Russian sabotage and reconnaissance groups in the Sumy region had decreased. However, the enemy has made minor advances in Vovchansk in the Kharkiv region.

  War in Ukraine, Kharkiv, Vovchansk