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In the Kharkiv region, evacuations accelerate



“Evacuating the last residents of Vovchansk, the city at the heart of the recent Russian offensive in the Kharkiv region, is becoming more dangerous every day”, announce it Guardian. Having dispatched one of its journalists to the south of this Ukrainian city, the British daily describes the “battle” which takes place to shelter the last civilians.

For more than a week, Moscow launches offensive in northeastern Ukraine with the country’s second city, Kharkiv, in its sights. His troops recorded their largest territorial gains in two years, attacking several localities including Vovchansk, five kilometers from the border.

The Guardian describes the evacuation operations organized by the police, with the help of volunteers. Only a few dozen Ukrainians are still there, while the city had 18,000 inhabitants before the outbreak of the conflict. “We don’t know how many people are still here, but we hope it’s less than 200”, said Oleksiy Kharkivskyi, head of the local police, interviewed Friday, May 17 in the morning by the journalist. Despite his years of experience, the man confesses that he was not prepared for this type of event. The city is still under fire from Russian artillery and drone strikes. The sound of sirens is incessant.

“Why the hell didn’t you leave sooner?”

These final residents are the most resistant at first, but the intensity of the fighting is such that they no longer have any other choice. “Most of them are old, frail or deeply traumatized. They reveal their identity to the police and wait for a minibus which will take them to a center for displaced people in Kharkiv.”

“Why the hell didn’t you leave sooner”exclaims an agent. “We didn’t want to leave. It is our house. We don’t know where to go”, replies Olha, her cat in her arms. She and her husband Mykola quickly gathered a few things in plastic bags.

“The region already spent seven months under Russian occupation at the very beginning of the war. If Vovchansk falls to the Russians, it will be the first time that Moscow has recaptured a city liberated by Ukraine., notes the daily. From now on, civilians give way to soldiers who try to reorganize the defenses: they are busy digging trenches and erecting fortifications.

“A total of 9,907 people were evacuated” in the Kharkiv region, declared Governor Oleg Synegoubov on Saturday May 18, according to comments reported by AFP. In an interview given to the French press agency and widely cited in the international press, the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskysaid he expected a broader Russian offensive in the North and East. “They have launched their operation, it may consist of several waves. And that’s their first wave.”

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