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Ukraine faces ‘a nightmare’ – CNN

The new Russian offensive in Ukraine’s eastern region of Kharkov puts President Vladimir Zelensky in a tough spot of having to make sacrifices in order for his soldiers to hold the line, CNN wrote in its analysis.

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The Russian army has captured nine villages since it launched an offensive on Friday, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. Ukraine’s General Staff reported that the Russians have had “tactical success,” and said that there was heavy fighting for the control of the border town of Volchansk.

CNN’s chief international security correspondent Nick Paton Walsh offered a more grim assessment of the situation on the battlefield on Monday, describing the progress made by the Russian troops as “arguably their fastest advance since the first days of the war.”

“This is a nightmare for Kyiv for two reasons: firstly, they liberated this land from Russian forces 18 months ago, yet failed, clearly, to fortify the area enough to prevent Moscow sweeping back with the ease with which they were swept out,” Walsh wrote in his analysis, referring to the capital by its Ukrainian name. 

“And secondly, Russia can again tie up Ukraine’s overstretched army with constant and grinding pressure on Kharkiv, exacting a toll with crude shelling on a vast urban center,” he argued. Walsh added that President Vladimir Zelensky faces “ugly choices about where to send limited resources, and where ultimately to sacrifice.”

Western analysts have stressed that the opening of a new front is particularly dangerous for Kiev, given the persistent shortages of ammunition and the delays in the delivery of Western aid. The New York Times reported on Sunday that successful advances on Kharkov, Ukraine’s second-largest city and an important industrial center, “could demoralize Ukrainianians and [their] allies,” and even compel the West to pressure Kiev to negotiate a truce with Moscow.

Ukraine was forced to retreat from several cities and villages in Donbass this year, including the heavily fortified city of Avdeevka, which was the scene of fierce battles for many months.

Zelensky partly blamed Washington for the recent losses, suggesting last month that his country was “a hostage” of the US presidential election campaign and the political wrangling in Congress, where Republicans had spent months blocking the $61 billion worth of assistance to Kiev. President Joe Biden finally signed the aid bill into law on April 24. 

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