Thursday, April 25

Losing ground in war, Ukraine seeks new position around Avdiivka

Ukrainian soldiers are withdrawing from their positions in the destroyed town of Avdiivka after advancing Russian forces breached a critical supply line and threatened to surround dozens of Ukrainian troops, military officials and officials said Thursday. Ukrainian soldiers.

Dmytro Lykhovii, a spokesman for Ukrainian forces fighting in the region, said the Ukrainians were “maneuvering” and “sometimes retreating to more advantageous positions and sometimes repelling enemy advances.”

He also said military commanders had set up a relief logistics route to the city to transport much-needed supplies to besieged Ukrainian troops.

The battle, Lykhovii said, was dynamic and changing from hour to hour as the two sides engaged in fierce urban fighting. But his comments suggest the fighting has taken another worrying turn for kyiv’s forces, potentially presaging their withdrawal from a city reduced to rubble by months of horrific bombardment.

In a war where territorial gains are mostly modest, the capture of Avdiivka would be the Russians’ most significant battlefield achievement since the capture of Bakhmut last May.

Signs of a deterioration in Ukraine’s grip on Avdiivka have been evident for several weeks. Ukraine recently withdrew soldiers from the 110th Brigade, which had played a vital role in defending the city for two years but was exhausted and severely exhausted after months of brutal fighting. Soldiers from the elite Third Assault Brigade were sent to reinforce Ukrainian forces, but stressed they were being sent into an already “extremely critical” situation.

“Avdiivka is hell,” brigade commander Andrii Biletskyi said in a statement. declarations. The situation in the city was “precarious and unstable”, he said, with the Russians able to rotate their troops and deploy more resources for the fight.

“We are obliged to fight 360 degrees against the new brigades deployed by the enemy,” he said.

Avdiivka, located less than 16 kilometers from the Russian-occupied city of Donetsk, withstood months of relentless Russian assaults aimed at encircling the stronghold.

However, as American military aid stopped arriving and commanders were forced to begin rationing ammunition, the Russians managed to take two positions in the city itself.

As Russian warplanes pounded Avdiivka with powerful guided bombs, its small assault units stormed the ruins. The Ukrainians have turned to drones to thwart Russian advances. But a recent period of fog and rain has limited drone use on both sides.

With the Ukrainians forced to conserve their ammunition, small bands of Russian assault units were able to assemble in the city itself.

“The Russians are throwing away everything they have left just to symbolically take the city,” said a Ukrainian soldier reached by telephone, insisting on anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly. “From a strategic point of view, the city no longer matters. And it is only beneficial for us to keep it so that the losses of the Russians are as high as possible.

Another soldier fighting in the city said it was “just horrible” and “the only thing to do is pray.”

Russian units are now advancing from the south, threatening to cut off Ukrainian forces in the southern part of the city, as well as to the north, where they have now crossed a key supply line in several places.

“Supply and evacuation from Avdiivka became difficult, but an alternative logistics route, prepared in advance, was activated,” Lykhovii said.

The Russians’ ultimate goal, he said, is to surround the massive Avdiivka coke and chemical plant, which could be used by Ukrainian forces to stage a last stand in the town if they were forced to completely withdraw from residential areas.

Ukraine’s new military commander, Gen. Oleksandr Syrsky, is facing scrutiny for his handling of Avdiivka. Although military analysts agree that Ukraine inflicted far greater losses on the Russians than they suffered in months of fighting, the urban combat that characterizes the endgame can be prove much more costly for both camps.

During the nine months of fighting for Bakhmut, it was the bloody final months of fighting in a bombed city that took the heaviest toll on both sides. General Syrsky was widely criticized for ordering his soldiers to fight inside the city long after it was clear that Bakhmut would be lost. The fight for Avdiivka, a small town of 30,000 inhabitants before the war but now made up of lifeless ruins spread over 19 square kilometers, has only recently degenerated into street fighting.

At the same time that General Syrsky must build trust in his country, he must plan for the future without knowing what help his forces will receive from their main military supporter, the United States.

A bill that would provide $60 billion in urgent military aid is facing strong resistance from Republicans in the House of Representatives.

Jake Sullivan, the White House. The national security adviser told reporters this week that “the costs of our inaction are also growing every day, particularly in Ukraine.”

Russia launched a new wave of 26 ballistic and cruise missiles on Ukrainian cities on Thursday morning. Ukrainian air defense teams were only able to bring down 50% of the dam, a sign that diminishing air defense capabilities have taken a toll.

“We need additional missiles or systems to continue waging effective air defense battles,” Yuri Ihnat, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force, said after the attack. “We need missiles not only to destroy Russian cruise or ballistic missiles, but also to deter Russian aircraft from approaching territory under Ukrainian control.”

Maria Varenikova and Liubov Sholudko contributed reporting from kyiv.