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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Ukrainian Troops Pull Back from Avdiivka Due to Ammo Shortage

The newly appointed Ukrainian army chief announced the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from the heavily damaged eastern town of Avdiivka in the early hours of Saturday. This move, aimed at preventing the complete encirclement of Ukrainian forces by Russian troops after months of intense conflict, comes as Ukraine faces severe ammunition shortages, with U.S. military aid delayed in Congress.

General Oleksandr Syrskyi, who recently assumed command of the Ukrainian military, stated that the decision to withdraw was made to relocate units to more secure positions outside the town, which had a pre-war population of 32,000. According to an armed forces statement, the goal was to avoid encirclement and protect the lives and well-being of the servicemen.

The loss of Avdiivka, nearly two years into Russia’s full-scale invasion, could strengthen President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s appeal to the West for urgent military aid. U.S. President Joe Biden had warned on Thursday about the risk of Avdiivka falling to Russian forces due to ammunition shortages, a consequence of months of Republican opposition in Congress to a new U.S. military aid package for Kyiv.

The strategic importance of capturing Avdiivka lies in Russia’s objective to gain full control of the two provinces constituting the industrial Donbas region. A successful takeover could provide President Vladimir Putin with a significant battlefield victory as he approaches re-election next month.

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Avdiivka has endured escalating offensive pressure from Russian forces in the east, exacerbated by dwindling Western military aid, contributing to the fatigue of troops engaged in nearly two years of conflict. General Syrskyi asserted that measures were being taken to stabilize the situation and maintain Ukrainian positions.

As of now, there has been no immediate response from the Russian Defence Ministry, President Zelenskiy, or the Ukrainian Defence Minister regarding the withdrawal.

OUTGUNNED AND OUTNUMBERED

In October, Russia intensified its offensive on Avdiivka, and Ukrainian positions had been under increasing pressure for several weeks. To bolster the defense, the Third Assault Brigade, a prominent Ukrainian infantry assault unit, was urgently deployed to the town this week. Simultaneously, other Ukrainian forces withdrew from the southeast of the town.

The situation was described as dire by the unit, referring to the fighting as “hell” and highlighting that Ukrainian defenders were significantly outnumbered by Russian forces, with a reported ratio of about six to 100 in certain areas, as mentioned on social media.

While Russia has not disclosed specific details about its losses in the intense battle for the town, Ukrainian officials and Western military analysts assert that the advances have come at a considerable cost in terms of both personnel and armored vehicles.

Avdiivka, now home to fewer than 1,000 residents, is situated just north of Donetsk, a Russian-held bastion that Ukraine lost control of in 2014 during an uprising led by Moscow’s proxies. The town includes a vast coking plant that has ceased operations due to the ongoing war.

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