Putin says Russia is carving out a buffer zone in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region

By Thomson Reuters May 17, 2024 | 5:44 AM

MOSCOW (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that Russian forces advancing in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region were creating a “buffer zone” to protect Russian border regions, but said capturing the city of Kharkiv was not part of Russia’s current plan.

Putin, who made the comments at a news conference during a state visit to China, said Russia’s recent thrust into the Kharkiv region was a response to Ukrainian shelling of Russian border regions such as Belgorod.

“As for what is happening in the Kharkiv direction. This is also their (Ukraine’s) fault, because they shelled and continue, unfortunately, to shell residential neighbourhoods in the border areas, including Belgorod,” said Putin.

“Civilians are dying there. It’s obvious. They are shooting directly at the city centre, at residential areas. And I said publicly that if this continues, we will be forced to create a security zone, a buffer zone. That is what we are doing.”

When asked if Russian forces planned to take control of nearby Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second biggest city, Putin said:

“As for Kharkiv, there are no such plans as of today.”

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Andrew Osborn)