Russia will strike unexpected places in summer and may attempt advance on Kharkiv, Kyiv says

Ukraine suspends consular services for military-age men abroad, stepping up its effort to boost conscription in ongoing war

Russian troops will strike in unexpected parts of the front when they conduct their summer offensive in Ukraine and could try to advance on the northeastern city of Kharkiv, the commander of Ukraine’s National Guard said on Tuesday.

Ukraine's second largest city has been pounded by missiles and drones in recent weeks, but Kyiv's forces will be prepared to thwart any assault, Oleksandr Pivnenko said.

“We are getting ready. Yes, the enemy will give us unpleasant surprises. It will operate in areas where we do not expect it. But it will not achieve its goal,” he told the Ukrainian news outlet

Russia has been inching forward in the east, but long-delayed US military assistance is finally expected to be approved this week and reach Ukraine soon, relieving critical ammunition shortages and air defences.


Ukrainian officials say they expect a Russian in late spring or summer, and that they believe Moscow wants to seize the strategically important eastern town of Chasiv Yar by May 9th when it marks Soviet Victory Day in the second World War.

Mr Pivnenko said he foresaw “some difficulties” for Kyiv’s troops, but that Russian forces would not make decisive gains.

“Perhaps they may be able to meet 10-15 per cent of their goals. But this will not be a strategic victory.”

He expected Russian troops to continue pounding Kharkiv’s critical infrastructure, much of which has already been damaged or destroyed in Russian strikes, but not to capture the city.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Ukraine suspended consular services for military-age men abroad except ones to help them return to their home country, dramatically stepping up its effort to boost conscription in the war against Russia.

Hundreds of thousands of military-age Ukrainian men are living abroad and the country faces an acute shortage of troops against a larger, better-equipped enemy nearly 26 months since Russia’s full-scale invasion.

Foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a statement that he had ordered measures to be taken to restore what he described as fair treatment for men of mobilisation age.

“How it looks like now: a man of conscription age went abroad, showed his state that he does not care about its survival, and then comes and wants to receive services from this state,” he said on X.

“It does not work this way. Our country is at war.”

Kuleba said the foreign ministry would clarify the procedure for military-age men to obtain consular services soon.

“Staying abroad does not relieve a citizen of his or her duties to the homeland,” Mr Kuleba said.

Some 4.3 million Ukrainians were living in European Union countries as of January, 2024, of whom about 860,000 are adult men, the Eurostat database estimated.

Ukraine imposed martial law at the start of the full-scale war, banning men aged 18 to 60 from travelling abroad without special dispensation and beginning a rolling mobilisation of civilian men into the armed forces.

A Ukrainian man living in Warsaw, who asked not to be named, told Reuters by telephone he thought the suspension would alienate citizens loyal to Kyiv.

Another Ukrainian, 21-year-old Anatoly Nezgoduk, who is studying in Canada, said: “I understand very well that there is a war in our country, so I can’t call this move weird, illegal or incorrect. In a way, this distances me from Ukraine’s official representation abroad.”

Some military analysts say the shortage of manpower is Ukraine’s most significant battlefield weakness. It also faces an acute lack of artillery shells, although Kyiv hopes US military aid will replenish its stocks soon.

There have been numerous cases of draft dodgers trying to flee the country. The border guard service said it had detained eight men trying to cross into Hungary illegally on Tuesday.

The state passport service said the issuance of ready-made passports had also been suspended for “technical reasons” for all citizens abroad expect children under the age of 12.

A foreign ministry helpline said the suspension of consular services would remain in place until clarification on how to implement the new law overhauling the way the mobilisation effort is conducted.

The law, which comes into effect next month, aims to improve and speed up the way the military mobilises civilians into the armed force.

The law will require all military-age men to report to draft offices to update their papers, remotely or in person within 60 days. Military-age men abroad would need those papers to receive consular services.

Volodymyr Fesenko, a Kyiv-based political analyst, predicted the suspension of consular services would not be a very efficient way to get people to update their personal data for military papers.

“But sooner or later many men will have to choose whether they will confirm their Ukrainian citizenship. Some part of people will delay, they will use corrupt ways and consular services abroad will earn good money on it,” he said.

Russia’s Belgorod region which borders Ukraine said that 120 civilians had been killed there in Ukrainian strikes and 651 people injured since the start of the war over two years ago.

Belgorod has been repeatedly attacked by Ukrainian artillery, drones and proxies over the past year. Russia invaded Ukraine in February, 2022.

Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said 11 children were among the dead and 51 children had been injured, some of them suffering amputations.

“The situation is extremely difficult. The attacks continue. People continue to die,” Gladkov said in a video message on Telegram in which he warned citizens to be vigilant during celebrations of Orthodox Easter on May 5th.

Kyiv denies targeting civilians and says it has the right to strike Russia, though US officials are concerned that attacks on Russian territory could trigger an escalation of the war. Ukrainian proxies have repeatedly tried to pierce the border and push into Belgorod.

Russia says the use of western weapons to attack Belgorod shows that the West is essentially already a party to the war, which has killed and injured many thousands of soldiers.

Neither Russia nor Ukraine give casualty figures for their soldiers. – Rueters