Civilians taken hostage, executed by Russian forces in Vovchansk

Evacuation in Vovchansk
Evacuation in Vovchansk

Russian forces are taking civilians hostage, executing some, and seizing property in Vovchansk, Ukraine’s Internal Affairs Minister Ihor Klymenko reported on Telegram on May 16.

Russian troops, attempting to secure their position in the city, have prevented residents from evacuating. "People are being kidnapped and thrown into basements," Klymenko stated.

Reports have emerged of the first civilian executions. One Vovchansk resident who tried to escape and refused to obey the invaders was killed.

Investigators from Kharkiv’s National Police have launched criminal proceedings over violations of the laws and customs of war.

Despite intense combat, National Police evacuation teams continue their efforts to evacuate residents from Vovchansk. However, the task is becoming increasingly difficult as Russian forces have begun targeting civilian and police vehicles, said Serhiy Bolvinov, head of Kharkiv’s State Police Investigation Department.

Read also: Germany to investigate war crimes committed by Russians in Ukraine

“People continue to call volunteers and law enforcement officers, asking for evacuation,” Bolvinov noted. He urged residents to leave on their own or head to the city’s bridge where they can be picked up.

Russian advance in Kharkiv Oblast

Russian troops have heavily shelled border settlements in Kharkiv Oblast, initiating a new wave of counteroffensives. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced the redeployment of Ukrainian forces to the Kharkiv sector in response.

The Ukrainian Armed Forces General Staff reported tactical successes by Russian forces near Vovchansk on May 13, but noted that the situation on the Kharkiv front remains difficult.

The Institute for the Study of War believes that attacking Vovchansk and attempting to encircle the city is a priority for Russian troops.

Local authorities reported that Vovchansk was almost completely destroyed by relentless Russian shelling on May 14, describing the situation in the city as critical.

On May 15, Oleksiy Kharkivsky, the chief of Vovchansk's patrol police, reported that Russian invaders were taking positions on the city’s streets.

The Ukrainian General Staff later confirmed the advance of Russian troops into northern Vovchansk.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine