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Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelensky called on his people not to panic amid Russia’s ongoing advance in the Kharkiv region that’s jeopardising a local city.

Ukrainians should trust in their army defending the country’s northeastern border area and not “yield to emotions” despite the fierce fight there and the “extremely difficult” situation on the outskirts of Vovchansk, Zelensky said in his regular evening statement on Sunday.

Along with several other towns and villages, Vovchansk — a city located only several miles from the border with Russia — is under constant fire from advancing Russian troops, according to local authorities who initiated a mass evacuation.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.Credit: AP

Nearly 500 residents still remain in the city, which had a population of almost 18,000 before the war, Oleh Synyehubov, regional governor said on Telegram.

Ukraine’s troops are attempting a counter-attack near Vovchansk, Zelenskiy said.

“The advance in the Kharkiv region aims to stretch our forces and undermine their morale and motivation,” he said.

“Defence battles have never been simple, and they become even more challenging when an enemy manages to instill fear.”

Zelensky’s comments were accompanied by statements from Vovchansk’s authorities, who assert that the Kremlin was spreading fake news by promoting a narrative that the local government had fled the city after its capture.

Russia’s defence ministry on Sunday claimed its troops had made deeper advances in the Kharkiv border region, “liberating” a total of nine settlements over the weekend.


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