Day 811: Ukraine’s defense intelligence chief sees situation in Kharkiv region stabilizing

Russian forces were prevented from advancing in Kharkiv region, Ukraine’s defense intelligence chief says. Zelenskyi asks Blinken for two Patriot batteries to defend Kharkiv and the surrounding region. Only half of Ukrainian refugees are ready to return home when certain conditions are met, a survey found.

Russian forces prevented from advancing in Kharkiv region, Ukraine’s defense intelligence chief says

Ukrainian troops have blocked Russian forces in border areas of Kharkiv region, Head of the Main Intelligence Department of Ukraine’s Defense Ministry, Lieutenant General Kyrylo Budanov said in televised comments on Tuesday. “A rapid trend towards stabilization of the situation has emerged,” he added.

He said a Russian offensive in border areas in Kharkiv region was “in the active phase.” Russian forces have not achieved much success. 

Budanov described the situation as fluid and rapidly changing.

“The enemy is already blocked at the lines that they were able to reach. An operation of Ukraine’s defense forces is underway to further stabilize [the situation] and begin to push the enemy beyond the borders of our country,” the defense intelligence chief said. 

The situation is not catastrophic, and there should be no room for panic, he said. Russia’s primary goal, he added, is to carry out an information operation that would sow chaos and force Ukrainian troops to step back from the eastern front lines.

Ukraine needs two Patriot batteries to defend Kharkiv, surrounding region, Zelenskyi tells Blinken

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday.

When meeting with Blinken, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi said that Ukraine’s biggest deficit for now was in air defense, telling Blinken Kyiv needs two Patriot air defense batteries for Kharkiv and the surrounding region.

“I want to discuss with you today about some very important issues. First, the decision of the package was crucial for us, we’re able to get it as quick as possible, and the second point is the air defense, the biggest deficit for us. I think that [this is] the biggest problem, and we need, really we need today two Patriots for Kharkiv, for Kharkiv region, because the people there are under attack. Civilians and warriors, everybody they are under Russian missiles,” Zelenskyi said.

“We know this is a challenging time but we also know that in the near term the assistance is now on the way, some of it has already arrived and more of it will be arriving,” said Blinken, during a meeting with Zelenskyi. “And that’s going to make a real difference against the ongoing Russian aggression on the battlefield.”

“We’re determined along with many other partners of Ukraine to make sure that you succeed on the battlefield,” the U.S. Secretary of State said. 

Only half of Ukrainian refugees ready to return home in future, survey finds

Only half of Ukrainians who escaped the war and remain in Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic are ready to return home when certain conditions are met, an April survey by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology found.   

The largest share of Ukrainians (34 per cent) say normal operation of critical infrastructure or safety (34 per cent) is essential for them to return. 

Equal shares of Ukrainians say housing (26 per cent) or an end of Russia’s full-scale invasion of their country (26 per cent) will play a decisive role in them deciding to go back home.  

Other reasons include employment opportunities (16 per cent) and a possibility for children to attend school or kindergarten (13 per cent).  

The most likely to return are Ukrainian refugees who have not applied for citizenship of the host country and are not fully satisfied with their current living conditions, the pollster says. 

Half of the respondents (50 per cent) are most likely to return home to Ukraine, but it should be viewed as an optimistic scenario, the institute said, explaining that other questions revealed that some refugees showed little interest in Ukraine’s current affairs.