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Russia claims eastern Ukrainian city of Avdiivka

Monday's announcement follows Kyiv's forces being driven out over the weekend as a result of the sheer weight of Russia's greater firepower.
Russia claims eastern Ukrainian city of Avdiivka
Posted at 7:17 AM, Feb 19, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-19 08:17:18-05

Russian forces have completed their takeover of Avdiivka by eliminating the last pocket of resistance at the eastern Ukraine city’s huge coke plant, the Russian military said Monday, after the sheer weight of its troop numbers and greater air and artillery firepower drove out Kyiv’s forces.

Moscow officials announced Saturday said they had taken control of Avdiivka. Ukrainian forces confirmed pulling out of the bombed-out city in what amounted to a triumph for the Kremlin even though the four-month battle was costly.

The victory was a morale boost for Russia, days ahead of the two-year anniversary of its full-scale invasion of its neighbor on Feb. 24 2022. For Ukraine, the rout was a bleak reminder of its reliance on the supply of Western weapons and ammunition, as hold-ups in the delivery of expected aid have left it short of provisions and handicapped in the fight.

SEE MORE: Ukrainian forces don't have enough artillery to battle Russia

Russia is likely to keep pressing its advantage, sensing that Ukraine is weakened. It battered Avdiivka with scores of glide bombs and relentless shelling in recent days, leaving the defenders with no place to hide, according to a senior Ukrainian officer involved in the battle.

“The positions that we were holding were just annihilated,” Rodion Kudriashov, deputy commander of the 3rd Assault Brigade, told The Associated Press.

The Ukrainian troops, meanwhile, were so short of ammunition that they “had to choose between targets,” Kudriashov said.

Outnumbered and outgunned, they pulled back to previously prepared positions, he said.

The sides were deeply uneven in favor of the Russian forces, he said, quoting Ukrainian intelligence assessments. “If we are talking about infantry, it’s 1 to 7. If we are talking about military vehicles it’s 1 to 8 and in terms of artillery, it’s 1 to 11, he said.

Some Western military analysts believe that Ukraine could counter Russia’s attempt to build up on its Avdiivka success by trying to erect new defense lines in that immediate area and deploying fresh units to hold back Kremlin’s forces.

SEE MORE: Putin urges US to push Ukraine talks, hints at swap of jailed reporter

Even so, the threat of ammunition shortages hangs over Ukraine’s military, with Russia aiming to exploit the moment as the United States struggles to get political agreement for more aid and Europe strives to increase production.

The proposed $61 billion U.S. aid package for Ukraine is seen as crucial for a Ukrainian victory. Without U.S. funding, Ukraine is likely to start losing the war, analysts say.

“Delays in Western security assistance to Ukraine are likely helping Russia launch opportunistic offensive operations along several sectors of the front line in order to place pressure on Ukrainian forces along multiple axes,” the Institute for the Study of War said in an assessment late Sunday.

Apart from Avdiivka, Russia is pushing harder in the northeastern Kharkiv region and in southern Zaporizhia, the Washington-based think tank said.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his country “is ”doing everything possible and impossible" to defeat Russia.

“Ukrainians have fought heroically before but for the first time in its history Ukraine has achieved such global solidarity and support,” Zelenskyy said in his daily video address on Sunday evening.


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