War in Ukraine Russian attacks on a hotel in Kharkiv

War in Ukraine: Russian attacks on a hotel in Kharkiv, dragon's teeth and barbed wire… an update on the situation

Every day Midi Libre takes stock of the situation in Ukraine. This Thursday, January 11, 2024, discover the latest news surrounding this conflict.

Russian attacks on hotel in Kharkiv

Two Russian missiles hit a hotel in downtown Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine on Wednesday evening, injuring eleven people, including one seriously, the region's governor said. Photos posted online show several blown windows, destroyed balconies and debris on the street.

Rescue workers entered the building to search the rubble. Kharkiv Region Governor Oleh Sinehoubov said on Telegram that the attack took place at around 10:30 p.m. local time and that S-300 missiles were used. “Nine of the injured were transported to medical facilities,” said Oleh Sinehoubov. “One of them, a 35-year-old man, is in a serious condition.”

Turkish journalists visiting the city were among the injured. “A rocket hit near a fence next to the hotel. The other hit a nearby outbuilding,” Kharkiv police chief Volodymyr Tymochko told public television channel Suspilne.

“No soldier has ever stayed in this hotel, this is common knowledge in Kharkiv. (The facility) was used by journalists.” Oleksandr Filchakov, head of the Kharkiv prosecutor's office, said in a video posted on Telegram that 23 guests and eight employees were at the hotel during the strikes.

Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said several houses in the neighborhood were damaged, as well as a factory and a car dealership. The Russian Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Dragon's teeth, barbed wire… Ukraine, for its part, is seeking refuge

Rows of white concrete barricades and rolls of barbed wire run through the field for more than a kilometer. Trenches were dug under the cover of darkness. Artillery rumbles nearby. On December 28, Portal was able to view new Ukrainian defense lines against Russian forces near the city of Kupiansk in the northeast of the country.

After realizing the failure of the counteroffensive launched in June, Ukraine has been increasing fortification work on the front for several weeks. These lines, some of which are based on those established by the Russians in the south and east of the country, should allow Kiev to contain the attacks of Moscow, which has regained the initiative on the ground, while reconstituting its armed forces.

Military experts note that Russia is increasing its attacks on the cities of Kupiansk, Lyman and Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine and no longer needs to maintain troop reserves for fear of an enemy breakthrough. On November 28, President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that defenses around these three cities would be “significantly strengthened.”

The Ukrainian leader also named the Kharkiv, Sumy, Chernihiv, Kiev, Rivne and Volyn regions that stretch along the border with Belarus, as well as the Kherson region in the south.

By consolidating its fortifications in this way, Ukraine hopes to reduce the number of soldiers stationed at the front, while the Kiev government has not yet resolved the thorny issue of reforming conscription to compensate for the decline in their numbers. Kiev also has to cope with the decline in its ammunition stocks.

According to Jack Watling, an expert at the Royal United Services Institute in London, Russian losses have fallen for this reason, allowing Moscow to build new units that could eventually open new fronts. “On the Ukrainian side they are trying to minimize their own losses but also build an offensive fighting force,” adds Jack Watling.

On Wednesday, Portal was able to view trenches dug by excavators in the Chernihiv region near the Russian border. “When the civilians finish their (consolidation) work, we will undermine everything,” Serhiy Nayev, force commander for the northern sector, told reporters. “(Work is underway) along the entire northern operational zone, in the Sumy region, Chernihiv and here towards Kiev.”

“Concrete structures, barbed wire, dragon teeth (anti-tank concrete blocks) being dismantled and surrounded with barbed wire,” the official added. “It’s taking too long,” feared a military engineer, “Lizard” at the front. “I think most of his barriers should have been built much earlier, probably in the spring.”

Several hundred meters beyond these dragon's teeth we were busy extending a network of individual trenches supported by wooden beams, equipped with basic shelters and bunk beds.