Ukraine has accused Russia of detaining and killing civilians in the border town of Vovchansk in the northeastern Kharkiv region, where Russian forces initiated a ground assault last week.

Interior Minister Igor Klymenko reported via Telegram, “Russian troops are taking civilians prisoner.”

He further added that according to intelligence reports, the Russian military, in their attempt to gain control of the city, had prevented residents from evacuating, resorting to abducting people and forcing them into basements.

Klymenko also said, “There are reports of the first shootings of civilians by the Russian military.”

“One of the residents of Vovchansk attempted to escape on foot, refused to comply with the invaders' orders, and was killed by the Russians.”

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In response to these allegations, regional police have initiated a “war crimes” investigation, Klymenko confirmed.

In the week following the surprise ground assault by Russian forces, Ukraine has evacuated nearly 9,000 people.

In Vovchansk, authorities reported intense street-to-street combat. Police chief Oleksiy Kharkivsky stated: “We are here and are evacuating people and helping them. The situation in Vovchansk is extremely difficult.”

On Tuesday, May 14, Ukrainian troops retreated to “more strategic positions” in the Kharkiv region, the military announced.

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The General Staff disclosed that this maneuver aimed to “preserve the lives of military personnel and prevent unit losses.”

Despite the withdrawal, fighting in the Kharkiv region persists, with Ukrainian forces actively thwarting Russian attempts to establish a foothold. Reinforcements have been dispatched to the area to counter the Russian offensive.

In the Kharkiv region of Ukraine, an active Russian offensive has been underway in recent days, prompting an emergency evacuation of civilians from villages and towns caught in the line of fire.

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Last week, Russian forces launched a significant ground assault in the region, compelling Ukrainian troops to adjust their positions.

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