Home World News Ukraine withdraws troops from Avdiivka

Ukraine withdraws troops from Avdiivka

Ukraine withdraws troops from Avdiivka

Ukrainian forces defending Avdiivka will withdraw from the eastern city and relocate to more defensible positions, Ukraine’s top military official said in a statement early Saturday local time.

The move is aimed at avoiding Russian encirclement and reducing casualties, according to Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrsky, the recently appointed Ukrainian military chief. “Our soldiers performed their military duty with dignity, did everything possible to destroy the best Russian military units, inflicted significant losses on the enemy,” he said.

Ukrainian military officials reported that Russia had launched large-scale attacks in the Avdiivka area on Friday. Some Ukrainian troops were captured while trying to move to new positions, they said, adding that it was difficult to evacuate the wounded amid continued Russian shelling.

Capturing the city would mark the most significant battlefield victory for Russia since Kyiv’s counteroffensive last year ended in heavy casualties and a failure to retake large swaths of occupied territory defended by well-fortified Russian positions. The withdrawal will also boost Russian morale ahead of the second anniversary of the war on Feb. 24 and reinforce concerns about Ukraine’s dwindling military supplies and personnel.

Ukraine on verge of losing Avdiivka, strategic city long targeted by Russia

Avdiivka, located 15 miles from the Russian-occupied regional capital of Donetsk, has strategic value for Moscow and has been the target of its attacks since 2014. The city has become the latest symbol of the grinding war of attrition unfolding in Ukraine, as Ukrainian forces there in recent months weathered Russian missiles and ground assaults involving infantry, armored vehicles and air support.

Syrsky, who was named to his post Feb. 8 by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, had led Ukraine’s ground forces since the start of Russia’s invasion in 2022. Many troops accused him of waiting too long to withdraw from Bakhmut, another eastern city, when it was under siege last year, The Washington Post reported. Although Ukrainian defenders inflicted heavy losses on Russian forces before abandoning Bakhmut in May, Kyiv suffered heavy casualties as well.

“The big questions now are how costly the withdrawal will be, and the quality of the next defensive line,” Rob Lee, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute think tank in Philadelphia, said on social media.

Ukrainian forces appear to be conducting “a relatively controlled withdrawal” while Russian troops attempt to complicate or prevent it, the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, said in a report published Friday.

Isabelle Khurshudyan contributed to this report.


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