Ukraine is withdrawing from Avdiivka, where outnumbered defenders held out for 4 months


KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s military chief said early Saturday he was withdrawing troops from the town of Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine, where outnumbered defenders have fended off a four-month Russian offensive.

Timing is crucial as Russia tries to boost morale ahead of the second anniversary on February 24 Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and presidential elections in Russia in March.

In a brief statement posted on Facebook, Ukrainian commander Colonel General Oleksandr Sirsky said he had decided to avoid encirclement and “protect the lives and health of soldiers.”

The Commander-in-Chief said the troops were moving towards “more favorable lines”.

“Our soldiers performed their military duty with dignity, made every effort to destroy the best Russian military units, inflicting significant losses on the enemy in terms of manpower and equipment.

“We are taking measures to stabilize the situation and maintain our position,” the statement said.

The withdrawal came a day after another withdrawal on Friday by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky trip to western europeIs hoping to put pressure on his country’s Western allies to keep providing military aid.

It was Syrsky’s first major test after being appointed as Ukraine’s new army chief last week.

In his previous position as commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, he faced criticism for his nine-month capture of the city of Bakhmut, a siege that became the longest and bloodiest battle of the war and came at great cost to Ukraine. Had to pay, but it also worked to weaken the Russian forces.

In recent days, reports emerged that Ukrainian troops faced deteriorating conditions in Avdiika.

Rodion Kudryashov, deputy commander of the 3rd Assault Brigade, said Friday that Ukrainian troops were still holding out against an onslaught of about 15,000 Russian troops, but he expected the situation “to become critical soon.”

“The enemy is trying to breach our security and is trying to bypass our positions in some places,” he told The Associated Press.

The Third Brigade said on its social media account on Friday that its soldiers were at the huge Avdiivka coke plant. The brigade said Russian warplanes were dropping about 60 bombs a day, continuously shelling the area and carrying out attacks with armor and infantry.

A video shows thick black smoke billowing over the factory, which is said to be caused by burning fuel oil stores. “Poisonous smoke has spread throughout the plant,” the post said.

Russian media reported that Kremlin forces were making extensive use of aircraft-launched glide bombs, which fly at low angles, to attack Ukrainian targets.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Thursday that Russian forces were beginning to overwhelm Ukrainian defenses in the eastern city. He said Avdiivka was in danger of falling to Russia, a development he attributed “very largely” to the fact that the Ukrainian army was running out of artillery ammunition.

The United States is Ukraine’s biggest supporter, but for Kiev it is worth about $60 billion being stopped From political disagreements among US lawmakers.

Heavily fortified with a network of tunnels and concrete fortifications, Avdeevka is located in the northern suburbs. Donetsk, a town in the region of the same name partially occupied by Russian forces. Capturing Avdeevka could be a timely boost for Moscow and could serve as a potential springboard for Russia to move deeper into the region.

According to Donetsk regional governor Vadim Fylashkin, less than 1,000 people are left in the city. The city, which had a pre-war population of about 31,000, is today a bombed-out shell.

Aerial footage of Avdiivka obtained by the Associated Press last December showed a catastrophic scene And indicative of Russia’s staggering losses, the bodies of about 150 soldiers – most of whom were wearing Russian uniforms – were scattered along the trees where they had tried to hide.

However, the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington think tank, said Thursday that the capture of Avdeevka would be a symbolic victory for the Kremlin and would not lead to any significant changes along the 1,500-kilometer (930-mile) front. Barely moved in recent months.

“A potential Russian capture of Avdeevka would not be operationally significant and would likely provide the Kremlin only with an immediate informational and political victory,” the institute said in an assessment.

It added, “Russian forces would be highly unlikely to make rapid operationally significant advances from Avdeevka if they captured the settlement, and a potential Russian capture of Avdeevka would set the conditions for further limited strategic gains.”


Hatton reported from Lisbon, Portugal.


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