Putin sees gains on Ukraine frontlines, including Avdiivka

Putin sees gains on Ukraine frontlines, including Avdiivka
Putin sees gains on Ukraine frontlines, including Avdiivka

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - A man sits inside a military vehicle at an exhibition of Ukrainian military equipment captured in the course of Russia-Ukraine conflict, at the station square in Luhansk, Russian-controlled Ukraine, October 15, 2023. — Reuters pic

MOSCOW, Oct 15 — Russian forces have made gains in their Ukraine offensive, President Vladimir Putin said today, including in Avdiivka, a symbolic industrial hub where fighting has been fierce.

Ukrainian forces say they continue to repel Moscow’s troops in the area.

“Our troops are improving their position in almost all of this area, which is quite vast,” Putin said in an interview on Russian television, an extract of which was posted on social media today.

“This concerns the areas of Kupiansk, Zaporizhzhia and Avdiivka,” Putin said, praising the army’s “active defence strategy”.

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Yesterday, Ukraine reported “very heated” fighting around Avdiivka, saying Russian forces had “not stopped assaulting” it for days in their attempt to surround it.

Today the Ukraine police said in a statement that “Russians shelled Avdiivka with artillery, shells hit a private house and killed a man”.

Kyiv said last week that Russia had stepped up assaults on the frontline city, which lies just 15 kilometres (nine miles) from Moscow-held Donetsk.

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Avdiivka, which is built around a vast coking plant, has been a symbol of Ukrainian resistance since 2014, when it briefly fell to Russian-backed separatists.

It has since marked the front line. Avdiivka was regularly bombed even before Russia’s full-scale military offensive began in February 2022 and the area is heavily fortified.

It would be more of a symbolic victory than a strategic one if Russia does capture Avdiivka, given that the town has represented Ukrainian resistance to Russian assaults for so long.

Russian forces now control territory to the east, north and south of the town.

They are gradually tightening the noose around it in a bid to push Ukrainian forces further away from the Russian-occupied city of Donetsk, which is bombed almost daily by Kyiv’s forces.

No breakthrough, says Kyiv

Today, Kyiv’s army said Russian attacks had been “repelled” in the area.

“The enemy keeps trying to break through our defences but without success”, it said.

On Saturday, the city’s Ukrainian mayor, Vitaly Barabach, described the situation on the ground as “very tense”, with the Russians attempting to “encircle the city” with “more and more troops”.

According to Barabach, just over 1,600 civilians remain in Avdiivka, where evacuation is difficult due to the constant shelling.

The city had a pre-war population of 31,000.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday that Kyiv was holding its ground in Avdiivka, while Moscow claimed its positions had improved there.

Several analysts, using open source images of the assault on Avdiivka posted on social networks, have noted the Russians appear to suffering major losses of military material.

Russia’s intensified assault on Avdiivka has come after four months of a Ukrainian counter-offensive, which has been slower than some expected.

Putin today repeated that the counter-offensive had “totally failed”.

“We know that in some combat zones, the enemy is preparing new offensive operations,” he said.

“We see it, we know it. And as a consequence we are reacting.”

Russian strikes have left four people dead and three wounded since Saturday in the eastern region of Kharkiv and Kherson, in the south, local authorities said.

In the Moscow-occupied zone in the Kherson region, three civilians were killed and another wounded on Saturday, according to local official Vladimir Saldo. — AFP

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