Internet InfoMedia russia mounting new border assaults in north ukraine says
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Armored columns tried to punch through at several points, the military said, raising pressure on already stretched Ukrainian forces.

Ukraine rushed reinforcements to its northern border on Friday after Russian forces attempted to break through Ukrainian lines along several sections, applying new pressure on forces already stretched thin along a 600-mile front.

The Russian assaults began around 5 a.m. Friday with massive shelling and aerial bombardments of Ukrainian positions followed by armored columns trying to punch through at several points along the border, according to a statement from Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense.

“As of now, these attacks have been repelled, and battles of varying intensity are ongoing,” the ministry said. “To strengthen the defense in this sector of the front, reserve units have been deployed.”

The breadth and intent of the Russian border incursions remained unclear. Military analysts have said Russia may be trying to force Ukraine to expend valuable resources in defending the region just as Russian assaults in eastern Ukraine are intensifying.

But a senior Ukrainian commander, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the current state of fighting, said on Friday that the Russian attacks went beyond probing or intelligence gathering. The commander called it the start of an offensive operation, adding that the Kremlin’s immediate goal appeared to be to create a buffer zone along the border.

After heavy battles raged overnight and into the morning, smaller skirmishes continued into the evening as Russia sought to solidify control over several small villages located right on the border, a Ukrainian official familiar with the fighting said. While there are few civilians left in the areas that came under attack, at least one resident of the town of Vovchansk was killed in shelling, local officials said, and several more were wounded.

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