Ukrainian Troops Withdraw from Two Villages Near Avdiivka

Ukraine’s Forces Retreat From Two Settlements Near Avdiivka

Ukrainian forces have reportedly retreated from two settlements near the Donetsk city of Avdiivka, recently captured by the Russian military.

Dmytro Lykhovii, spokesperson for Ukraine’s “Tavria” operational-strategic group, disclosed during a Ukrainian television broadcast that the villages of Stepove and Severne had been vacated following clashes with advancing Russian forces on Tuesday, as per The Kyiv Independent.

Although Stepove and Severne were inhabited by only about 100 residents before Russia’s invasion two years ago, their strategic proximity to Lastochkyne, a village just west of Avdiivka, renders their control crucial. Lastochkyne fell under Russian control after Ukrainian forces withdrew on Monday.

Ukrainian Troops Withdraw from Two Villages Near Avdiivka
Ukrainian Troops Withdraw from Two Villages Near Avdiivka (Credits: The Moscow Times)

The British Defense Ministry’s recent intelligence update highlighted Russia’s escalated assaults along the front lines to “strain Ukrainian forces,” a strategy apparently yielding results, as evidenced by Ukraine’s withdrawal from multiple settlements near Avdiivka this week.

Lykhovii noted during Tuesday’s broadcast that preceding the withdrawal from the villages, Russian forces sustained “significant losses” during “intense fighting” on Monday night and Tuesday morning, according to Ukrainian news agency Interfax-Ukraine.

Contrary to Russian claims of capturing Stepove and Severne by Sunday, a report from the U.S.-based think tank Institute for the Study of War (ISW) indicated otherwise. Geolocated footage cited by ISW on Monday depicted Russian forces entering the southeastern part of Severne on the same day.

ISW’s assessment suggests that Russia’s recent advancements signify Moscow’s broader strategic initiative, potentially posing grave consequences for Ukraine unless there are alterations in military tactics, such as Kyiv initiating a new counteroffensive.

Some analysts suggest that Ukraine’s recent setbacks on the battlefield correlate with the dwindling flow of foreign military assistance this year. Approximately $60 billion in aid from the U.S., requested by President Joe Biden, remains stalled in Congress due to partisan disputes.

Leon Hartwell, a senior associate at the London School of Economics think tank LSE IDEAS, previously highlighted the disconnect between Western promises of support for Ukraine and their actual implementation, attributing part of this gap to Russia’s capture of Avdiivka.

“Ukrainian troops have been operating with an overwhelming disadvantage, being outgunned five-to-one on the frontline, with Avdiivka being a dire example,” Hartwell remarked. “In light of these circumstances, how did we even expect Ukrainians to hold Avdiivka for this long?”

However, Russia’s apparent success has come at a steep cost. Lykhovii claimed last week that Moscow suffered over 47,000 casualties in the months-long battle for Avdiivka, including 17,000 fatalities and 30,000 injuries leading to service-ending conditions. To put this in perspective, an estimated 15,000 Soviet troops were killed throughout the entirety of the Soviet Union’s war in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989.

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