Situation in Kharkiv Oblast remains ‘critical’ – military expert

Sumy Oblast fortifications
Sumy Oblast fortifications

In an interview with NV Radio on May 15, Ukrainian military expert Mykhailo Zhyrokhov said the battlefield situation in northern Kharkiv Oblast is “critical,” with Russian forces continuing their advance.

“Unfortunately, no [frontline] stabilization is in sight,” said Zhyrokhov.

“If we look carefully at the morning update from Ukraine’s General Staff, it included a particular phrase – ‘our troops have retreated to more advantageous positions.’ This means several streets in Vovchansk are lost. There are some losses in other positions as well.”

At the same time, he did not suggest that a Russian breakthrough was imminent: “the defense line runs along the elevated terrain there… the situation is really critical but remains under control.”

Read also: Russian forces occupy streets in Vovchansk amid ongoing battles - Ukrainian DM

The border with Russia in Ukraine’s northeastern Sumy Oblast stretches for almost 600 km. Meanwhile, Ukrainian Defense Intelligence (HUR) chief Kyrylo Budanov warns that Russia continues to maintain a small group of forces in that area.

Zhyrokhov explained the threat that poses to Sumy Oblast.

“As far as I know, the Russians were preparing or are preparing a local operation there,” he said.

“But the situation in Sumy Oblast is such that there are very few settlements near the border. That’s why the Russians could advance there in two or three expected areas, for which, I think, our General Staff has some border protection plan.”

He added that Russia may advance on Sumy Oblast in the coming days.

“If they advance or take some active actions [in Sumy Oblast], it will take place before May 20 as they need to coordinate [with the Kharkiv offensive],” Zhyrokhov said.

“Militarily speaking…, simultaneous action is more effective.”

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