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Avdiivka falls to Russia after Ukraine withdraws troop from frontline city

Videos on social media Saturday appeared to show soldiers raising the Russian flag over one of the plant's buildings. The development comes on the same day when Ukraine's military chief said he was withdrawing troops from the city in eastern Ukraine.

Raju Kumar Edited By: Raju Kumar @rajudelhi123 Kyiv Published on: February 18, 2024 8:37 IST
Avdiivka falls to Russia
Image Source : AP Avdiivka falls to Russia

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said his forces have taken complete control of the Ukrainian city of Avdiivka. Russian forces were now working to clear the final pockets of resistance at the Avdiivka Coke and Chemical Plant, Shoigu told the Kremlin in a statement. 

The timing of the Avdiivka victory is crucial as Russia is looking for a morale boost ahead of the second anniversary on February 24 of Moscow's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Russia will undergo Presidential election in March.

In a short statement posted on Facebook, Ukrainian commander Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi said he had made the decision to avoid encirclement and “preserve the lives and health of servicemen.

"The commander-in-chief added that troops were moving to “more favourable lines."

“Our soldiers performed their military duty with dignity, did everything possible to destroy the best Russian military units, inflicted significant losses on the enemy in terms of manpower and equipment.

“We are taking measures to stabilise the situation and maintain our positions,” the statement read.

The withdrawal came a day after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday made another trip to Western Europe, hoping to press his country's Western allies to keep providing military support.

It was Syrskyi's first major test since being appointed as Ukraine's new army chief last week.

In his previous position as commander of Ukraine's ground forces, he faced criticism for holding on to the city of Bakhmut for nine months, a siege that became the war's longest and bloodiest battle and cost Ukraine dearly, but also served to sap Russia's forces.

In recent days, reports emerged that Ukrainian troops in Avdiika faced a deteriorating situation.

Rodion Kudriashov, deputy commander of the 3rd Assault Brigade, said Friday that Ukrainian troops were still holding out against the onslaught of about 15,000 Russian soldiers, but he expected the situation would “soon become critical.”

“The enemy is trying to penetrate our defence and in some places to bypass our positions,” he said.

The 3rd Brigade said on its social media account Friday that its soldiers were at the huge Avdiivka Coke Plant. Russian warplanes have been dropping about 60 bombs a day, relentlessly shelling the area and launching assaults with armour and infantry, the brigade said.

A video showed dense black smoke over the factory, said to be caused by burning fuel oil reservoirs. The post said, “Poisonous smog spreads all over the plant.”

Russian media reported the Kremlin's forces were making extensive use of plane-launched glide bombs, which fly at a shallower angle, to batter Ukrainian positions.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said on Thursday that Russian forces were beginning to overwhelm Ukrainian defences in the eastern city. He said Avdiivka is at risk of falling to Russia, a development he blamed “in very large part” on the fact that Ukrainian forces are running out of artillery ammunition.

The United States is Ukraine's biggest single supporter but some USD 60 billion for Kyiv is being held up by political disagreements among American lawmakers.

(With AP inputs)

Also read: Kamal Nath, his son Nakul and other Congress MLAs likely to join BJP today: Sources

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