The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, stated that the defense of the damaged eastern city of Avdiivka was essential to Kyiv’s war preparations and that severe Russian casualties there were likely to impair Moscow’s management of the broader fight.
While this was happening, the chief of staff for Zelenskiy admitted for the first time that Ukrainian troops in the southern Kherson region had gained a footing on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River. This might potentially open up a new line of attack into Crimea.
A year ago, Russian forces withdrew from the Western Bank and relocated to the Eastern side, where they have established positions from which they frequently shell the Western Bank’s cities and villages.
After the initial days of the invasion in February 2022, when Moscow’s soldiers were unable to make progress into Kyiv, they shifted their attention to eastern Ukraine. Since the middle of October, they have been firing on Avdiivka, and authorities from the town, which had a population of 32,000 before the war, claim that not a single structure is still standing in its original state.
According to Zelenskiy’s nightly video message, Russian assaults in the eastern Donetsk area, including Avdiivka, have been “very intense” recently.
“Russia is already losing men and equipment near Avdiivka faster and on a larger scale than, for example, near Bakhmut,” he said. He was referring to the months of fierce warfare that ended in Russian forces capturing the eastern town of Bakhmut in May. “Russia is losing men and equipment near Avdiivka faster and on a larger scale than, for example, near Bakhmut,” he added.
“It is pretty tough to withstand their pressure… The enemy’s overall condition and the general course of this battle will significantly deteriorate due to the loss of additional Russian forces that are destroyed close to Avdiivka.
Although Avdiivka was not mentioned in any official Russian accounts of the combat in the east, a renowned Russian war blogger named Rybar stated that there had been “some headway” in positions around the town.
According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, Moscow’s soldiers have successfully withstood five raids since May surrounding the settlements near Bakhmut that Ukraine took back. It was reported that 300 people had been killed or injured in Ukraine.
Reuters was unable to corroborate the accounts provided by either party. Bakhmut is located around 50 kilometers (31 miles) north of Avdiivka, barely 20 kilometers (13 miles) west of Donetsk, the regional capital that the Russians seized.
According to Oleksandr Shtupun, a spokeswoman for the Ukrainian military, the battle is most intense south of Avdiivka.
According to what Shtupun said on national television, “the occupants have actively used guided aviation bombs in Donetsk region over the past three days, particularly around Avdiivka.” According to him, Ukrainian soldiers had successfully resisted 18 Russian strikes over the previous 24 hours.
FOUNDATION OF THE SOUTH AS WE KNOW IT
After several weeks of conflicting reports, the chief of staff for the Ukrainian presidential administration, Andriy Yermak, finally admitted that Ukrainian forces had entrenched themselves on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River.
In a speech given to a think tank in the United States known as the Hudson Institute, Yermak stated that “contrary to all expectations, Ukraine’s Defense Forces have established a foothold on the left (east) bank of the Dnipro.” The comments were made available for viewing on Zelenskiy’s website.
He continued by saying, “Step by step, they are demilitarizing Crimea,” alluding to the peninsula that Russia had taken control of in 2014. We have already traveled 70 percent of the total journey. Our counteroffensive is also developing at this time.”
Because the counteroffensive that Ukraine has been waging for the past four months has only secured incremental advances, Ukrainian officials have been careful in defining the actions that their soldiers have been engaged in on the East Bank.
The Russian military said the previous week that its forces had defeated an effort by the Ukrainian army to establish a bridgehead on the eastern bank and neighboring islands, resulting in the deaths of over 500 Ukrainian soldiers.
On Monday, in a highly uncommon event, two Russian official news agencies released warnings claiming that Moscow was sending soldiers to “more favorable positions” east of the Dnipro River in Ukraine, only to remove the report minutes later. This was an extremely unusual occurrence.
When describing withdrawals, Russia has occasionally employed language similar to that used here, referring to shifting soldiers to more favorable positions.