Putin Justifies Offensive in Kharkiv, Blames Ukrainian Strikes on Belgorod

The offensive in northeastern Ukraine is a response to Ukrainian strikes in Russia, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated during his visit to China, according to world news agencies.

Putin assured that Moscow currently has no plans to capture the major Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.

"I publicly stated that if this continues, we would be forced to create buffer zones for security, a sanitary zone. And that is what we are doing," Putin said during a press conference in Harbin, China.

He added, "What is happening in the direction of Kharkiv is their (Ukrainians') mistake because they bombed and continue to bomb residential areas in Russian border territories, including Belgorod," as reported by AFP.

Belgorod Oblast and its capital city face almost daily strikes and drone attacks. Kyiv claims it is responding to Russian bombing of Ukraine.

Putin confirmed that Russian forces, which began a surprise offensive in northern Ukraine on May 10, are advancing daily in the Kharkiv region as planned, according to AFP.

This offensive has expanded the front at a time when Ukrainian forces are on the defensive in eastern and southern Ukraine due to shortages of personnel and ammunition. AFP notes that Moscow achieved its most significant territorial gains since late 2022 during this surprise offensive, compelling Kyiv to redeploy reinforcements from other frontline areas.

Regarding negotiations with Ukraine, Putin said that if Ukraine does not want to negotiate, it should not, according to TASS.

"There is no subjunctive in politics. 'If?' - We won't go on, you know what would happen in other cases. But there is no 'if,' they don't invite us. Moreover, they say they don't see us there. If they don...

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