Ukrainian Stronghold Avdiivka Succumbs to Russian Forces

by | Feb 17, 2024

Avdiivka, a stronghold for Ukraine for almost a decade, has now fallen to Russian forces. Concerned about the risk of encirclement, Ukraine's top military commander has ordered a retreat. The decision to completely withdraw from Avdiivka, a city now devastated by the Russian assault, aims to safeguard the lives and well-being of Ukrainian servicemen.

General Oleksandr Syrsky emphasized the necessity of this move given the intense operational circumstances. This marks the first significant territorial gain for Russian forces since May of the previous year. Despite Ukrainian efforts to resist Russian advances in the summer and fall, recent weeks have seen a relentless Russian offensive spanning the extensive 600-mile front.

The Ukrainian retreat on Saturday comes after a brutal culmination marked by some of the most intense fighting in the two-year conflict. Despite facing superior numbers and weaponry, Russia relentlessly bombarded the city from the air and launched ground offensives, albeit sustaining significant casualties.

With Ukrainian forces outmatched, they initiated withdrawals from southern positions in Avdiivka on Wednesday. Since then, they have been engaged in a frantic struggle to prevent being surrounded within the city, as Russian troops advanced from various directions. Amid the relentless bombardment by Russian bombers, Ukraine reported successfully targeting and downing three Russian warplanes.

Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, who leads Ukraine’s forces in the south, explained that the decision to withdraw was inevitable due to Russia's firepower advantage and its willingness to commit a large number of soldiers to the battle.

Even if Ukrainian defenses stabilize behind Avdiivka, its fall to Russian control will streamline Moscow's military movements, enabling it to deploy troops and equipment more effectively in other directions.

“Avdiivka holds significant importance within Ukraine's defense strategy,” stated Mykola Bielieskov, a military analyst at the National Institute for Strategic Studies in Ukraine. He emphasized its role in safeguarding Pokrovsk, a vital logistical hub located about 30 miles northwest. Bielieskov highlighted that Russia's control over Avdiivka could potentially create strategic opportunities for further incursions.

The soldiers mentioned in this piece are identifiable members of the Ukrainian military who maintain a presence on social media platforms. The landscapes depicted in their videos were confirmed by The New York Times to be located in Avdiivka.

Avdiivka and its neighboring areas have remained on the front lines since Russian-backed militants seized territory in eastern Ukraine in 2014. However, Russian efforts to capture the city intensified in October, with large-scale assaults aimed at encircling the region.

Earlier this year, Russian forces breached the city of Avdiivka itself, resulting in significant Ukrainian casualties. Concurrently, Russia escalated its bombardment of the city in an attempt to dismantle heavily fortified Ukrainian defenses.

Amidst escalating tensions, both internal and external military analysts expressed concerns that Ukrainian leadership might repeat what many deemed a previous error: clinging to territory even when hope was lost, thus needlessly depleting personnel and resources.

The withdrawal from Avdiivka was still ongoing on Saturday morning amidst relentless Russian bombardment. Ukrainian military command reported minor losses during the withdrawal from the city's southern sector.

Source: The New York Times

 

 

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