Putin forces advance as Russia takes control of village in Ukraine's Kharkiv region

Smoke rises over the city after a Russian missile strike (REUTERS)
Smoke rises over the city after a Russian missile strike (REUTERS)

Russian forces have captured the village of Starytsia in Ukraine's Kharkiv region, the Kremlin said on Saturday.

Vladimir Putin’s forces have pummelled Kharkiv with strikes in recent weeks, hitting civilian and energy infrastructure in the north eastern region since launching its offensive on May 10.

The Kremlin has said that its forces are continuing to advance into the region and that it has taken control of 12 settlements in Kharkiv in the past week.

After weeks of probing, Moscow launched the new push knowing that Ukraine suffered personnel shortages, and that its forces have been spread thin in the north east.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday during a visit to China that the Russian push aims to create "a buffer zone" rather than capturing Kharkiv.

On Friday, Mayor Ihor Terekhov said that Russian guided bombs killed at least three residents and injured 28 others that day.

Moscow denies deliberately targeting civilians, but thousands have died or suffered injuries in the more than 27 months of fighting.

In response to the situation, Kyiv has lowered the age of conscription from 27 to 25.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky also signed two other laws on Friday, allowing prisoners to join the army and increasing fines for draft dodgers five-fold.

Russia enlisted its prisoners early on in the war, and personnel shortages compelled Ukraine to adopt the new measures.