Ukraine holds out as Russia steps up relentless assault on Avdiivka: ‘The enemy does not stop’

By Isaac M October 13, 2023

The Ukrainian military continues to hold its ground in the face of Russia’s relentless assault on the eastern city of Avdiivka, Volodymyr Zelensky, as the battle intensified for a third day.

Russia has moved a large armoured column of three battalions, including some 2,000 troops, dozens of armoured vehicles and jets into the northern flank of the Avdiivka front for what has been described as the biggest military offensive in months.

The Ukrainian forces said they repelled more than 20 attacks by the Russian army in Avdiivka and the surrounding regions in the past 24 hours, in what was described as a blow to Moscow’s attempts to use the offensive to show the tide of the war turning in its favour.

Mr Zelensky said: “Avdiivka. We are holding our ground. It is Ukrainian courage and unity that will determine how this war will end. We must all remember this.”

Municipal officials said the Russian attacks were relentless and the enemy was attacking from all sides.

Vitaliy Barabash, head of the city military administration, told Ukrainian television: “The enemy does not stop storming, they come from all directions.”

Ukrainian Special Operations Forces said Kyiv’s troops had “foiled the plans of the crazed enemy, repelled all attacks and held their positions”.

Avdiivka holds significant strategic importance for Russia, serving as the crucial gateway to Donetsk, the primary communication hub within the occupied territories. To gain a foothold in occupied Donbas, the Kremlin aims to shift the front line away from Donetsk.

File Smoke rises from the area in the direction of Avdiivka in the course of Russia-Ukraine conflict, as seen from Donetsk, Russian-controlled Ukraine on 11 Octorber


In 2022, Russian forces initiated an offensive against Avdiivka, attempting to encircle the city deeply from both sides. This offensive was halted and the region has become a symbol of resistance, holding out against Russian troops ever since.

“On average, there are 50-60 instances of intense shelling with artillery and rockets targeting the town,” said Mr Barabash. “As for military positions, they get hit at least 500-600 times a day.”

Oleksandr Shtupun, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s southern group of forces, said Russia saw Avdiivka as an opportunity to win a significant victory and “turn the tide of fighting”.

“Today the capture or encirclement of Avdiivka is probably the most it can achieve at this stage,” he said.

Geolocated footage of the area showed Russia had advanced in some villages southwest and northwest of Avdiivka this week, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), an American non-profit research group and think-tank.

Around 64 clashes have been reported in the last 24 hours involving 4 missile attacks, 65 airstrikes and around 54 attacks using multiple launch rocket systems on Ukrainian troops and various settlements, the general staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in an update on Facebook.

In the latest overnight attacks, Russia intensified strikes on Danube River ports in the southern Odesa region that have become Kyiv’s main route for food exports since Moscow quit a deal allowing shipments via the Black Sea in July.

A military spokesperson said Russia had hit a grain storage facility in the Odesa region and some grain had been damaged but did not say how much.

It comes amid fears that Moscow will intensify attacks on power infrastructure to freeze Ukrainians as winter sets in in the repeat of events from last winter.


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