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Ukraine claims it repelled Russian armored attack to cross border

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Ukraine claims to have repelled a Russian armoured attack in the northeastern Kharkiv region after the country’s forces launched an incursion across the border and attempted to break through defensive lines. However, Russian officials have denied the allegations, stating that Ukraine was the one that initiated the attack, which resulted in a huge fire breaking out at an oil storage depot in Ukraine’s occupied Luhansk region. Three people were killed in the attack, and four others were said to be in critical condition. The attack on the oil depot was the second such incident in the region this week. Meanwhile, the US announced a new $400m military aid package for Ukraine, including air defence munitions, artillery rounds, anti-tank weapons, and armoured vehicles.

The attack started with the heavy bombing of the town of Vovchansk using guided aerial bombs, with small Russian “scouting groups” moving in across the border in several places. The defence ministry in Kyiv said that, as of now, the attacks have been repulsed, and fighting of varying intensity continues. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the Russians had been engaged “with our troops, brigades, and artillery,” but a fierce battle was underway. Civilians were being evacuated from the Vovchansk district while reserve troops moved in, officials added. 

While officials and generals do not think that the two regional capitals could fall, they are not putting their guard down. Russian forces were unable to conquer either city when they had a larger, better-trained force than they do now. Ukrainian sources estimate around 90% of that original 150,000 army are either dead or wounded. Military commentator Oleksandr Kovalenko has pointed out that Russia needed some 80,000 troops to capture the small eastern city of Avdiivka last February after months of bombardment. Big cities such as Sumy and Kharkiv were on a completely different scale, he said. 

The situation is a repeat of 2022, when Russia failed to capture Kharkiv and Sumy in the early weeks of its full-scale invasion. Russian forces occupied the border town of Vovchansk for several months until they were pushed out in September 2022. Russian officials have said that Ukraine has been continuing to launch artillery strikes on Russian territory, leading to the nervousness of some Western allies.

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