Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy delivers his nightly address to the nation, May 16, 2024

Friday’s Coverage: Invading Russians Trap Residents As “Human Shields” in Kharkiv Region

Map: Institute for the Study of War


Ukrainian air defenses downed all 13 Iran-type attack drones launched by Russia overnight.

The drones were intercepted over the Kharkiv, Poltava, Vinnytsia, Mykolaiv, and Dnipropetrovsk regions.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: Commenting on Russia’s 8-day cross-border offensive in the Kharkiv region, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has spoken about the need to defeat Moscow’s military and psychological warfare.

In his nightly video address to the nation, Zelenskiy summarized:

Russia’s entire Kharkiv operation boils down to its attempt to weaken our forces along the frontlines while trying to strengthen propaganda, which is also aimed at world leaders. Russia tries to show that it has the ability to shape the course of the war.

Our goal is to thwart Russia’s attempt to expand the war, as well as to prevent the occupiers from breaking the frontline or undermining our diplomacy and efforts to bring a just peace closer.

In an interview with AFP, published on Friday, Zelenskiy said the situation in Kharkiv has been “controlled” but “not stabilized” after Ukraine sent reinforcements. He noted that Russian troops had advanced 5 to 10 km (3.1 to 6.2 miles) into the border area before they were checked by defenders.

Zelenskiy warned that the offensive, which has seized around 12 villages and attacked the border town of Vovchansk, may only be the “first wave” of several: “We have to be sober and understand that they are going deeper into our territory. Not vice versa.”

Ukraine’s military commander-in-chief Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi said the invaders have expanded the area of active hostilities by almost 70 square km (27 square miles).

The general explained that Russia is “trying to force [Ukraine] to use an additional number of brigades from the reserve”. Moscow had not made a breakthrough, but there will be “tough fighting” ahead.

On Friday, Russian attacks killed at least two civilians and injured one in Vovchansk. At least three people were slain and 28 injured by strikes on Kharkiv city.

Zelenskiy acknowledged, “We need to staff the reserves … A large number of [brigades] are empty.” With many Ukrainian soldiers fighting for more than two years without any respite, the President said, “We need to do this so that the guys have a normal rotation. Then their morale will be improved.”

Zelenskiy said Ukraine has only a quarter of the necessary air defenses. He appealed, “So that Russia does not have air superiority, our fleet should have 120 to 130 modern aircraft… to defend the sky against 300 [Russian] aircraft.”