Russia seeks to control Kobyansk and Ukraine orders its evacuation

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Ukraine has asked some residents to leave the eastern city of Kopyansk, in Kharkiv, as Russia continues its push to retake the city it left last year.

The military leadership in Kharkiv urged families and those with “limited mobility” to leave because of the “continuous” shelling by Russian forces.

Russia captured the city, an important supply hub, early in its invasion of Ukraine, and Ukraine regained control of it last September.

Meanwhile, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who heads the Wagner Group, said the group had “encircled” Bakhmut.

The Ukrainian army said in its latest newsletter that the Russian forces continued their attack on Bakhmut, but that these attacks were “repelled”.

Earlier this week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky admitted that the situation in Pakhmut, some 130 kilometers south of Kobyansk, had become “more difficult”, and the Kharkiv regional military administration said the evacuation order was due to the “unstable security situation” caused. On Russia’s bombing of the city and its surroundings, the Ukrainian military administration added that those who were evacuated are provided with assistance, including securing accommodation, providing food, humanitarian aid and medical support, and added that other citizens are allowed to leave the area, bearing in mind that the city’s population before the war was about 25,000.

The Ukrainian military said that 812 children are currently registered in the city of Kobyansk and the surrounding area, in addition to 724 people with disabilities.

The ISW Institute for the Study of War said Russian forces were continuing “limited ground offensives” northeast of Kobyansk, as well as offensive operations around the city of Krymina, about 80 km to the south.

The city of Kobyansk, which is home to an important railway junction, has witnessed fierce fighting since the start of the war, as Russia took control of the city in a matter of days, and then occupied it for several months, however, by September, Ukrainian forces regained control amid a rapid counter-offensive in the east of the country. , placed many towns under the leadership of Kiev.

Ukraine warned last month that Russia was preparing a new major offensive, with officials saying Moscow had massed thousands of troops on Ukraine’s eastern flank.

This escalation, however, did not translate into major successes on the battlefield, despite clear advances around Kobyansk and Bakhmut.

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The head of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said, in a video clip posted on the Telegram application on Friday, that “the pincers are tightening” around Bakhmut, and in a direct message to President Zelensky, he said that Wagner’s units had “practically cordoned off” the city, leaving only one road. The Ukrainian president called for a withdrawal from the city.

In a separate development today, Russian President Vladimir Putin is chairing a meeting with the country’s top security officials. This comes a day after the Russian president accused a “sabotage” Ukrainian group of entering a Russian border region and opening fire on civilians.

The governor of Bryansk region said that “saboteurs from Ukraine” opened fire on a civilian car in the border village of Lyubshan, killing two men and wounding a 10-year-old child.

Kiev has strongly denied the Russian allegations, calling them provocative to Moscow.

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