Putin Says Russia Creating ‘Buffer Zone’ in Kharkiv in Response to Ukrainian Attacks on Belgorod

Zelensky says he fears the Russian offensive in Kharkiv may just be the 'first wave' of a wider assault

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that the purpose of Russia’s offensive in the northeastern Ukrainian region of Kharkiv was to create a “buffer zone” in response to Ukraine’s attacks on Russia’s Belgorod Oblast.

“Now, about what is happening in the Kharkiv direction. They [the Ukrainian authorities] are also to blame for that because they shelled and continue shelling, unfortunately, residential areas of borderline territories, including Belgorod,” Putin said, according to Russia’s TASS news agency.

“I have said publicly that if this continues, we’ll have to create a security buffer zone. This is what we are doing,” he added. Belgorod has been targeted by Ukrainian forces throughout the war, and those attacks have ramped up in recent months.

Also on Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned the Kharkiv offensive could just be the “first wave” of a wider Russian assault. Ukrainian officials have previously said that Ukraine’s lines risk collapsing wherever Russia focuses its offensive.

Military situation in Ukraine on May 19, 2024 (SouthFront.press)

Ukraine has been asking the US to allow the use of US-provided weapons on Russian territory. The US has been vague on the issue, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying the US doesn’t “encourage or enable” Ukrainian attacks on Russian territory but adding that it’s “ultimately Ukraine has to make decisions for itself about how it’s going to conduct this war,” and the State Department has refused to elaborate on his comments.

Any Ukrainian attacks on Belgorod using US-provided weapons would risk a major escalation. After UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron said Ukraine could use British weapons on Russian territory, Moscow summoned the British ambassador and warned that Russia could target UK military sites in response.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.