Russia-Ukraine updates: Moscow may seek to retake Kharkiv | News | DW

Russian President Vladimir Putin may have ordered Russian forces to seize the city of Kharkiv and the rest of the unoccupied Kharkiv region despite the extreme likelihood of success, according to the US research group Institute for the study of war (ISW).

However, in its daily report, ISW said it offered the observation as a guess rather than an assessment because it was based on “limited and circumstantial” indicators.

Russian forces have tried to take the town of Dementiivka, north of the city of Kharkiv, in recent weeks, although it is of only limited importance for the defense of Russian territory.

In addition, Ukrainian intelligence released an intercept on Saturday in which a Russian soldier said his commander did not care about his losses and only wanted to reach Kharkiv.

A previous IOW report said Russian-backed authorities in occupied parts of the Kharkiv region have declared the area an “inalienable part of Russian land”.

Pro-Moscow officials there unveiled a new flag for the occupying regime, which contains the Russian imperial double-headed eagle and symbols of the 18th-century Kharkiv coat of arms.

The occupied administration has also signed a mutual defense pact with the Luhansk separatists, indicating that they have no intention of leaving. Statements from the administration have indicated that it aims to control areas of the region currently under Ukrainian control.

Even in 2014, as fighting raged in neighboring Luhansk and Donetsk regions, fears were raised that Kharkiv could be next.

The city of Kharkiv was heavily shelled and witnessed some of the bloodiest fighting of the war until Russian troops withdrew as Moscow focused on its war in Donbass.

The shelling of the area has been rapid and violent in recent days.

The report said Russian forces are likely to intensify ground assault attempts north of the city of Kharkiv over the next few days “but are unlikely to achieve any significant territorial gains.”

Here are the other headlines from the war in Ukraine on Sunday, July 17.

UK says Russian forces are digging

The British Ministry of Defense says Russia is strengthening its defensive positions in occupied areas of southern Ukraine, apparently in response to recent and possible future attacks as Kyiv forces seek to regain lost territory .

Moscow moved manpower, materiel, and defensive stores between Mariupol and Zaporizhia, and to Kherson.

“The Russian defensive measures are probably a response to the anticipated Ukrainian offensives, to Defense Minister Shoygu’s requests during a recent visit to the Donbass, as well as to the attacks that Ukraine launches against command posts, nodes logistics and troop concentrations,” the report said. . “Given the pressures on Russian manpower, the strengthening of the South as the struggle for Donbass continues probably indicates the seriousness with which Russian commanders view the threat.”

EU marks anniversary of downing of MH17

The European Union has marked the eighth anniversary of the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine, reiterating its full support for all efforts to obtain justice for the 298 victims.

Four pro-Russian separatists are on trial, in absentia, in the Netherlands, accused of shooting down the Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014.

International investigators discovered that the plane had been shot down by a Russian Buk surface-to-air missile.

“Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine is a painful reminder of what happened eight years ago for the 298 people aboard flight MH17 and it reinforces the need to establish accountability,” says a statement from the EU.

“Recalling its previous statements, the European Union takes note of all ongoing legal proceedings in this regard and expects Russia to assume its responsibility and cooperate fully with efforts to establish accountability.”

EU to adopt more sanctions against Russia

The European Union will discuss tougher sanctions against Russia on Monday.

As the conflict continues and increasingly turns into global energy and food crises, the bloc’s foreign ministers are considering banning gold purchases from Russia, which would align with the sanctions already imposed by the G7 partners. More Russian individuals could also be blacklisted by the EU.

“Moscow must continue to pay a heavy price for its aggression,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said after passing on the proposed measures.

Catch up on DW’s Ukrainian content

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the decision to restart coal and oil-fired power stations – to cushion the impact of energy shortages due to Russia’s war in Ukraine – is only temporary.

DW takes a look at the problems Germany is facing when it comes to power supply.

After being ordered to step up operations in Ukraine, Russian forces appear to be resuming their attacks in the Donbass region with small-scale offensives near the city of Sloviansk.

Read this and more from our Saturday updates.

rc/sms (dpa, Reuters, AP, AFP)