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Russia plans to create buffer zone around Kharkiv, President Putin says

RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin said today that Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine’s north-eastern Kharkiv region aims to create a buffer zone, but has no plans to capture the city.

Mr Putin’s comments on a trip to China were his first on the offensive launched on May 10, which opened a new front in the war and displaced thousands of Ukrainians within a few days.

It came hours after a massive Ukrainian drone attack on the Crimean peninsula, annexed to Russia in 2014, early today caused power outages in the city of Sevastopol while damaging aircraft and fuel storage at an airbase.

In southern Russia, Russian authorities said the attack also set a refinery ablaze.

Moscow launched attacks in the Kharkiv region in response to Ukrainian shelling of Russia’s Belgorod region, Mr Putin told reporters today on a visit to Harbin, China.

“I have said publicly that if it continues, we will be forced to create a security zone, a sanitary zone,” he said. “That’s what we are doing.”

Ukrainian troops were fighting today to halt Russian advances in Kharkiv region that began late last week.

The town of Vovchansk, located three miles from the Russian border, has been a hot spot in the fighting in recent days. Ukrainian authorities have evacuated around 8,000 civilians from the town.

Mr Putin said Ukraine’s planned peace conferences in June were a vain attempt to enforce terms of a peaceful settlement on Russia. He emphasised that Russia wasn’t invited to the Swiss-hosted meeting.


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