Monday Briefing: Russia Pushes Into Northern Ukraine

Olha Melnichuk, an 85-year-old Ukrainian, was evacuated to Kharkiv on Saturday.Credit…Emile Ducke for The New York Times

Russia blazes into Ukraine’s north

In the past three days, Russian troops have poured across Ukraine’s northeastern border. They have taken more square miles per day than at almost any other point in the war — save the very beginning — and are moving near Kharkiv.

Russian forces launched a complex offensive on Friday. At least nine villages were seized. Now, some Ukrainian troops are retreating, and some commanders have taken the unusual step of blaming each other.

Gen. Oleksandr Syrsky, Ukraine’s top military commander, conceded that the situation had “significantly worsened.” But he said that Russian attempts to break through Ukrainian defensive lines had been unsuccessful so far.

Thousands fled to Kharkiv, the nearest big city to the villages. About 20 miles from the border, it is safe — for the moment. “We could hear machine gun fire coming closer and closer,” one recently arrived woman said. The Russians were “about to break in.”

Toll: Villagers in the Kherson region slowly rebuilt their lives after Ukraine pushed Russia back. Now they’re braced for a fresh assault.

In Russia: President Vladimir Putin moved Sergei Shoigu, his minister of defense, to a position running the national security council. It was the first shake-up for his national security team since the invasion began.

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