Ukraine Withdraws from Avdiivka, Where Defenders Held Out for Four Months Despite Being Outnumbered

Credits: Los Angeles Times

Ukraine’s military chief announced early Saturday that troops are being withdrawn from the city of Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine after a four-month battle against a Russian assault.

This move comes at a critical time, with Russia seeking a morale boost ahead of the second anniversary of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 and the upcoming presidential election in Russia in March.

Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, the Ukrainian commander, stated in a Facebook post that the decision to withdraw was made to avoid encirclement and to preserve the lives and health of servicemen.

He added that troops were moving to “more favorable lines” after performing their military duty with dignity and inflicting significant losses on the enemy.

Ukrainian Soldiers (Credits: The Kyiv Independent)

This withdrawal followed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s recent trip to Western Europe, where he aimed to persuade Western allies to continue providing military support. The meeting with the US Congress members in Munich was a significant part of this effort.

The situation in Avdiivka had been deteriorating, with reports indicating that Ukrainian troops were facing an onslaught of about 15,000 Russian soldiers.

Despite holding out against the attacks, the situation was expected to become critical soon, according to Rodion Kudriashov, deputy commander of the 3rd Assault Brigade.

The Avdiivka Coke Plant, where Ukrainian soldiers were stationed, was under relentless shelling and assaults from Russian forces. The plant was engulfed in dense black smoke, reportedly caused by burning fuel oil reservoirs, leading to a “poisonous smog” spreading throughout the area.

The White House expressed concern over the situation, with national security spokesman John Kirby stating that Russian forces were beginning to overwhelm Ukrainian defenses in Avdiivka. He attributed this to the fact that Ukrainian forces were running out of artillery ammunition.

Despite the potential capture of Avdiivka being seen as a symbolic win for the Kremlin, analysts suggest that it would not bring significant changes to the front line, which has remained stable for months.

The Institute for the Study of War stated that capturing Avdiivka would offer the Kremlin immediate informational and political victories but would not lead to rapid operational advances.

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