Fears for Ukrainian town as Russian soldiers attack ‘from all directions’

By Isaac M February 8, 2024

Russian troops are attacking a town in east Ukraine from all directions, and the situation is increasingly difficult for Ukrainian troops defending the town, its mayor said on Thursday.

Russian forces have taken the initiative on the eastern front in the industrial Donbas region of Ukraine and have been trying to cut supply lines and encircle Ukrainian forces dug in at Avdiivka since October.

“The enemy is pressuring from all directions. They are storming with very numerous forces,” Avdiivka mayor Vitaliy Barabash said in televised comments, describing the situation as “very difficult and hot”.

Pounded by fighting in the region since 2014 that surged in February 2022 when Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Avdiivka has sustained heavy damage.

There are now only 941 residents in the town that was once home to 32,000 people and has a large coking plant, Barabash said.

Avdiivka’s fall would be hailed by Russian authorities as a hard-fought victory before an election next month in which President Vladimir Putin widely expected to be re-elected.

Ukrainian soldiers fire a French-made CAESAR self-propelled howitzer towards Russian positions near Avdiivka

(Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

In its daily readout of the situation in Avdiivka, the Ukrainian military said Kyiv’s troops were holding back Russian forces.

“Our soldiers firmly hold the defence, inflicting significant losses on the invaders,” it said.

Ukraine’s ground forces said the situation was tense across the east of the country.

“The enemy is trying to break through our defence in the area of Chasiv Yar (in the Donetsk region) and resorting to local actions by small storm groups under the cover of drones and artillery,” they said on the Telegram messaging app.

Avdiivka, which had a pre-war population of around 32,000 and is called Avdeyevka by Russians, has been a frontline city since 2014, when it was briefly occupied by Moscow-backed separatists who seized a swathe of eastern Ukraine.

Russian-backed officials describe the city as a “fortress” with concrete bunkers. They say defenders are holed up in tower blocks that cannot be stormed head-on without huge losses, and are using the coking plant as a base and weapons depot.

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