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Russian Forces Push Deeper Into Northern Ukraine

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In the past three days, Russian troops, backed by fighter jets, artillery and lethal drones, have poured across Ukraine’s northeastern border and seized at least nine villages and settlements, ­and more square miles per day than at almost any other point in the war, save the very beginning.

In some places, Ukrainian troops are retreating, and Ukrainian commanders are blaming each other for the defeats.

Thousands of Ukrainian civilians are fleeing to Kharkiv, the nearest big city. A reception center that hummed with a sense of order and calm on Saturday had transformed into a totally different scene on Sunday, as exhausted people shouted at each other and families with no place to go spilled out onto the grass.

As the sense of panic spreads, especially in Kharkiv, some hard questions loom: How far will this go? Is it just a momentary setback for the underdog Ukrainians? Or a turning point?

Military experts say the Russian advance has put Ukraine in a very dangerous spot. Ukrainian troops have been complaining for months about severe shortages of ammunition — exacerbated by the tangles in the U.S. Congress that delayed the delivery of key weapons. And Ukrainian soldiers, by all accounts, are exhausted.

More than two years of trying to fight off a country with three times the population to draw from has left Ukraine so depleted and desperate for fresh troops that its lawmakers have voted to mobilize convicts, a controversial practice that Ukraine had ridiculed Russia for using in the first half of the war.

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