Russian forces are defying heavy losses and are pushing to capture the town of Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian officials said Wednesday.
Russia has focused on Ukraine’s eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk since failing in its initial assault on the capital Kiev after stepping up its invasion in February 2022.
Over the past two weeks, Russia has focused on Avdiivka in Donetsk, a town that was known in peacetime for a large coke plant but is now considered a bulwark of the Ukrainian resistance.
“The enemy tries to move forward, and then we beat him back,” Oleksandr Shtupun, a spokesman for Ukraine’s southern forces, said on national television.
“So you can’t possibly talk about some kind of fixed situation. Fierce fighting continues, although activity has subsided somewhat. The enemy is going through some sort of regrouping.’
Russian forces relied on infantry using small assault groups of 30 to 40 men, Shtupun said, citing Russia’s losses in the past six days as 2,500 dead and wounded in the area.
Ukraine attacked the Russian air defense complex near Belgorod with drones: a source from Kiev
“It’s also quite important for Russia, considering they don’t take care of their own people,” Shtupun said.
Vitaliy Barabash, the head of the Avdiivka military administration, said Russia had applied pressure from the north but had failed to get past the Ukrainian-controlled railway line.
He also denied reports that Russian troops had secured control of one of the large slag dumps that dominate the city’s industrial landscape.
“They hung flags there and tried to make some kind of spectacle,” said Barabaš.
Valery Prozapas, a Ukrainian captain, told Espresa TV that the Russians are working to take advantage of the fact that Avdiivka is “de facto half surrounded”.
“The second issue is political. They have no reason to be proud and they have to sell their population some kind of victory, even if only in the interim,” said Prozapas.
A Ukrainian counter-offensive that began in June has resulted in the capture of devastated villages in the east and some settlements in the southern sector, but the pace is much slower than last year’s advance in the northeast.
Russian reports of the latest fighting do not mention Avdiivka, but say Russian troops repulsed 15 Ukrainian attacks near Kupiansk, further north.
Ukrainian officials also acknowledged heavy fighting near Kupiansk, a town initially captured by troops but retaken by Ukraine in last year’s rapid advance in the northeast.
Authorities in the Kharkiv region announced that they are introducing mandatory evacuation of families from 10 places in the area.
Reuters could not independently confirm reports of the battle from either side.
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