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15 May, 2024 11:01

Zelensky postpones all foreign trips as Russia advances

The move comes after Moscow’s forces captured several settlements in Kharkov Region in recent days
Zelensky postpones all foreign trips as Russia advances

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has postponed foreign visits scheduled for later this week, his press secretary has announced. His comments come amid the Russian offensive in the border Kharkov Region.

The statement was made on Wednesday by Sergey Nikiforov, who wrote on his Facebook page that the Ukrainian leader “has instructed that all international events involving him scheduled for the coming days be postponed and new dates coordinated.” He thanked Kiev’s backers for their understanding.

Zelensky was due to travel to Spain on Friday and meet with King Felipe. Later, he was expected to visit Portugal, where he was set to sign a bilateral security cooperation agreement with Lisbon.

While Nikiforov did not state the reason for the postponement of Zelensky’s travel, the move comes as the Russian Defense Ministry reported an advance in Ukraine’s Kharkov Region. On Wednesday, it said Moscow’s troops had captured the villages of Glubokoye and Lukyantsy, which are close to the Ukraine-Russia border.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov admitted that Kiev was facing an “extremely difficult” situation as its troops were struggling to hold ground and were outgunned by the Russian forces. Against this backdrop, he urged Ukraine’s backers to ramp up ammunition deliveries.

Ukrainian officials have long warned that they were not ready to repel a major Russian attack, complaining about delays with Western arms shipments. In April, the head of Kiev’s military intelligence, Kirill Budanov, warned that Ukraine would face serious difficulties in mid-May and early June.

Kharkov Region has frequently been used by Ukrainian forces to stage artillery and drone attacks on Russian border areas, many of which targeted residential buildings, resulting in dozens of civilian casualties. In March, Russian President Putin suggested that Moscow could “at some point” be forced to “create a certain cordon sanitaire” in Kiev-controlled territories to prevent further attacks.