Ukrainian forces are fighting off a new Russian military onslaught in the bombarded eastern city of Avdiivka where intense fighting has been concentrated this month, senior military officials said.
“The enemy is not relenting in attempts to break through our defences and surround (Avdiivka),” Ukraine’s commander-in-chief Valery Zaluzhnyi said in a video posted on Telegram in which he is seen conferring with officers in Avdiivka and Kupiansk.
The Ukrainian Army said they have continued to make gains in the southern part of the war-hit nation. The region has been hit by massive Russian attacks as the fighting has been intensified in recent weeks.
“The enemy is actively bringing in assault units and large amounts of armoured equipment and using aircraft and artillery,” the Ukrainian general said.
Ukrainian forces have faced constant pressure on Avdiivka where Russia has regrouped and launched new assaults, Oleksandr Shtupun, spokesperson for the southern group of Ukrainian forces, said on Thursday.
The city, about 20km (12 miles) west of Russian-held Donetsk saw a lull in the fighting in the last few days after witnessing heavy shelling and missile attacks last week.
Russia said its forces destroyed a command point near Avdiivka and repelled 11 Ukrainian attacks near Kupiansk. Ukrainian general Zaluzhnyi said Ukrainian forces around Kupiansk were “maintaining their defence in the most difficult of conditions”.
A town next on radar for Russian forces to recapture, Avdiivka has seen months of attacks since Russia’s full-scale military assault in February last year. Known for its large coking plant, Avdiivka held out in 2014 against Russian-backed separatists who secured swathes of eastern Ukraine and it.
Only 1,600 residents remain from a pre-war population of 32,000, officials said.
Kupiansk was recaptured by Ukrainian troops late last year in a lightning advance through the country’s northeast, but Russian forces have stepped up attacks in a bid to retake it.
In continued signs of progress, Ukrainian spokesperson Shutpun said the troops had made a degree of headway in the southern part of the frontline.The Ukrainian troops have advanced 400m (a quarter mile) to the southwest village of Verbove in Zaporizhzhia region.
The troops fighting off Russian attacks in the southern part are looking to advance to the Sea of Azov and sever a land bridge linking Russian positions in the east and south.
In another gain this week, Ukrainian forces have broken through the eastern bank of the Dnipro river in southern Kherson region – in an offensive that can rupture Russia’s military lines across the critical river.
When Ukrainian troops retook parts of Kherson region last year, Russian forces abandoned its biggest city, also called Kherson. They now shell the city from the opposite bank.
Source : Independent