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Tuesday, 11/28/2023 21:20 IWST
Photo: REUTERS/MAXIM LEVIN
Russian forces have launched ground and air strikes on Avdiivka since mid-October as the focal point of their slow offensive through eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region in a 21-month-old war.
This latest push, reported by Vitaliy Barabash, head of the Avdiivka military administration, follows reports last week that Ukrainian forces had made progress in halting and repelling the Russian advance.
“The situation in the Avdiivka sector is becoming more difficult. The intensity of clashes has been increasing for some time,” Barabash told media outlet Espreso TV, as quoted ReutersTuesday (28/11/2023).
“The Russians have opened two more sectors where they are starting to carry out attacks – in the direction of Donetsk … and in the industrial zone. The enemy is trying to storm the city from all directions.”
Officials said not a single building remained intact after months of fighting in a city known for its sprawling coke factories. Fewer than 1,500 residents remain of the pre-war 32,000.
Most of the fighting focused on industrial areas and coke factories.
Barabash previously said that Ukrainian troops in recent days had pushed back Russian forces near Stepove, a village northwest of Avdiivka, and held them near a railway line.
Ukrainian and Western military analysts say Russia has suffered heavy losses, although the battle to capture the city is rarely mentioned in official Russian military reports.
Russian military bloggers also reported Ukrainian advances near Avdiivka last week. On Monday, Russian reports said Moscow’s forces had taken control of an industrial zone and were trying to storm a coke factory.
Avdiivka was seized in 2014 by Russian-financed separatists who seized most of eastern Ukraine.
Fortifications were later built around the city – which is seen as a gateway to the Russian-controlled Donetsk regional center – and the city has withstood attacks since Moscow began its full invasion in February 2022.
Ukraine launched a counteroffensive in June but made little progress in the east and south. President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged the slow progress being made, but rejected suggestions that the war was at a stalemate.
Shtupun said Russian forces suffered heavy losses near Avdiivka and nearby Maryinka, another largely destroyed town whose control had been contested for months.
“Our defenders defended,” Shtupun told liga.net. “We fought and will continue to fight despite the bad weather.”
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