Ukraine slows Russia’s advance and unleashes a wave of drones on Crimea

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his troops had stabilized the situation in the northeastern Kharkiv region and that the Russians had pushed no more than 6 miles into Ukrainian territory.

 Ukraine said its forces had slowed the Russian advance in the war’s new hotspot as Moscow said Friday a massive wave of drones attacked several regions of the country, including occupied Crimea.

A week after Russian troops swept over the border, taking a dozen villages and opening a new front in the northeastern Kharkiv region, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his troops had stabilized the situation and that the Russians had advanced by no more than 6 miles into Ukrainian territory.

The Russian forces had reached the first line of Ukraine’s defenses in the area, Zelenskyy said in a meeting with reporters late Thursday, adding that insufficient air defense had allowed the enemy to cross into the region, giving it an opportunity to strike from a distance at which it can operate air bombs and artillery.

Zelenskyy said that he Russian military’s main goal is to seize the key town of Vovchansk, just three miles from the border, where the two sides have been locked in fierce street battles there over the past week.

Thousands of residents have been forced to evacuate from the border area, though Ukraine’s military said Thursday it had stopped the Russian advance in Vovchansk.

Daily Life In Kharkiv In Third Year Of Russia's Large-Scale Invasion
The scene of a drone attack on railway infrastructure in Kharkiv on Friday. Ukraine’s second-largest city has come under intensifying bombardment.Libkos / Getty Images

The Ukrainian president visited the Kharkiv region Thursday, meeting with wounded soldiers and handing out awards, after he canceled several overseas visits — a sign of how seriously Kyiv is taking the new assault as it still waits for new U.S. military aid to reach the front lines.

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He said in his nightly address that his forces “have managed to build confidence in the direction of Vovchansk.”

The Kremlin’s new offensive in the northeast has largely been seen as an attempt to carve out a buffer zone around its border regions, which are frequently shelled by Ukraine.

But in a sign that Kyiv would keep striking deep inside Russian-held territory, Moscow’s defense ministry said more than 100 drones were intercepted overnight, half of them over the occupied Crimean Peninsula. It also said that six Ukrainian sea drones were destroyed in the Black Sea.

Ukraine Drone Attack On Airbase In Crimea
Satellite images reveal destroyed MiG 31 fighter aircraft at Russia’s Belbek airbase near Sevastopol, Crimea on Thursday. Maxar Technologies via AP / AP

Russian-installed officials reported that the key port city of Sevastopol was experiencing a partial blackout after drone debris fell on a power station.

Sevastopol governor Mikhail Razvozhayev said it could take up to 24 hours to restore power, forcing him to shut down schools and kindergartens for the day. There were no casualties, Razvozzhayev said.

Drones also attacked the neighboring Krasnodar region, where an oil refinery caught fire, the Russian defense ministry said, as well as the Belgorod and Kursk regions. Belgorod region governor Vyacheslav Gladkov reported that two people, including a 4-year-old child, died in the overnight drone strikes.

Daryna Mayer reported from Kyiv, and Yuliya Talmazan from London.

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