Despite Russia's recent surprise offensive, mounting tens of thousands of troops against the northeastern region last week, Ukraine's security council chief assured on Monday, May 13, that there's no immediate risk of a ground assault on the city of Kharkiv.

"Russian actions in the border area are ongoing," Oleksandr Lytvynenko, Ukraine's security council secretary, told AFP in Kyiv. "But we don't see any threat of assault on the city of Kharkiv."

Lytvynenko noted that while Russian forces made small advances into the Kharkiv region on Friday, capturing several villages, they had not posed a direct threat to Kharkiv itself.

"About 50,000 Russian troops were on the border, with more than 30,000 involved in the current attack," he said.

Russia's latest offensive is believed to be aimed at establishing a "buffer zone" along the region's borders to limit Ukrainian attacks into Russia, which have intensified recently.

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While acknowledging Ukraine's strikes inside Russian territory, Lytvynenko stressed they were aimed only at military targets and oil and gas facilities used to fuel the invasion.

He added that the war is likely to be protracted, with Russia aiming for a long-term conflict not only with Ukraine but with NATO as well.

Regarding recent military shake-ups in Russia, including the replacement of defence minister Sergei Shoigu with economist Andrei Belousov, Lytvynenko commented that Belousov's appointment suggests Putin is planning for a prolonged conflict.

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"Soviet stockpiles are huge, but they are also limited," he said. "If military operations continue at the same intensity as they are now, the Russians will have enough tanks and armored vehicles for a year and a half. Then they will start having problems."

The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces (AFUreported on Monday, May 13, ongoing battles for the border town of Vovchansk in the Kharkiv region, with Russia achieving tactical success.

“The enemy deployed significant forces, up to five battalions, in the attack on the town and is disregarding its losses,” the report stated.

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The AFU disclosed that Russian troops have lost more than 100 soldiers in a single day in this sector alone.

“At present, the enemy has gained tactical advantage,” the report said.

The General Staff also reported ongoing combat operations in sectors including Pylna, Lukyantsi, Hlyboke, Oliynikove, Murom, Buhruvatka.

“During the day, the enemy initiated 22 assaults in these sectors, with 14 still ongoing,” the message read.

According to Deep State data, Russian forces have occupied additional villages in the Kharkiv region and are advancing towards Vovchansk.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) assessed that Russian offensive efforts to seize Vovchansk are “in large part a consequence of the tacit Western policy” regarding what weapons can be used on targets inside Russia.

According to the ISW analysis: “Russian forces are reaping the benefits of the West’s long-term restriction on Ukraine using Western-provided weapons to strike legitimate military targets on Russian territory – territory that Russian forces now depend on to sustain their offensive operations in northern Kharkiv Oblast [region].”

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