Ukraine will be able to strengthen its positions and stabilize the front in the next few days, but Russia will launch a new offensive further north of Kharkiv, in the Sumy region, Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukraine's military intelligence (HUR), said speaking with a journalist from The New York Times (NYT)from a bunker in Kharkiv. 

Budanov said that the current Russian attacks in the northeast are aimed at stretching the already thin reserves of Ukrainian soldiers and distracting them from fighting elsewhere.

The Ukrainian Armed Forces (AFU) are  redeploying troops from other parts of the front to bolster their defenses in the northeast, but have had difficulty finding personnel.

According to Budanov, the situation in the Kharkiv region, where Russian troops launched a surprise offensive last week, is on the brink, and every hour, the situation is getting closer to critical.

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Sr. Lt. Denys Yaroslavsky, who commands a unit fighting in the Kharkiv region, said Russians are raining missiles on Vovchansk.

"They are dropping five to seven bombs every three minutes," Yaroslavsky told The NYT.

At the same time, according to Oleksandr Lytvynenko, Ukraine's Security Council Chief,  there is no imminent threat of a ground assault on Kharkiv yet.  

“At the moment, Russian actions in the border [sector] are ongoing,” Oleksandr Lytvynenko, the recently appointed secretary of Ukraine’s Security Council, told AFP in an interview in Kyiv.

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“We can say that we don’t see any threat of assault on the city of Kharkiv,” he said.

“But there are a lot of Russians, quite a lot. About 50,000 were on the border,” Lytvynenko added. More than 30,000 of Moscow’s troops were involved in the current northeastern invasion, 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 said they were aimed only at military targets and oil and gas facilities used to fuel the invasion.

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.

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.

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