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Starlink’s failure helps Russian army take Kiev forces by surprise in Kharkov Region — WP

In addition, Ukrainian forces were facing ammunition shortages due to a stalled US aid package

WASHINGTON, May 17. /TASS/. Russia’s offensive in the Kharkov Region took the Ukrainian army by surprise because of a failure in the Starlink satellite Internet service, the Washington Post writes, citing Ukrainian military sources.

According to the paper, Russia’s offensive "had been expected for months - yet it still surprised the Ukrainian soldiers stationed" near Kharkov. The Washington Post writes that Ukrainian forces were using drones to monitor the Russian army’s activities but on the day the offensive began, the Starlink devices that one of Ukrainian brigades was using failed, knocked out completely for the first time since the launch of Moscow’s special military operation in February 2022.

"We were left at a certain point completely blind," a drone unit commander in the 125th Brigade stationed along the Russian border in the Kharkov Region told the paper. He said that "this was the biggest problem" because Ukrainian troops were unable to follow the movement of Russian forces and "only worked through radio or through phones."

In addition, Ukrainian forces were facing ammunition shortages due to a stalled US aid package. They also complained of not having enough time to strengthen their defenses. The drone commander said that soldiers had to dig with shovels at night. "We tried to do what we could," he noted. "Because the soil is very heavy here, it’s machines that can dig through that and machinery that can install concrete fortifications. We weren’t able to do that," the newspaper quoted him as saying.

Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters on Friday that the Russian army was making achievements in the Kharkov Region. He noted, however, that there were currently no plans to seize the city of Kharkov.

Earlier, Ukrainian officials admitted that the situation was difficult in the Kharkov area. The Ukrainian General Staff said on May 14 that the country’s armed forces had "to move to more advantageous positions" near the town of Volchansk and the village of Lukyantsy. The military authorities also announced the deployment of additional reserves to the area. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky held a meeting with senior commanders in Kharkov on May 16, describing the situation as extremely difficult.