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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Russian Defense Ministry declares full control of Avdiivka Coke Plant

Russian forces asserted complete control over the extensive Soviet-era coke plant in the war-torn Ukrainian town of Avdiivka on Monday, solidifying their most significant territorial gain in nine months following a highly intense battle. This marks Russia’s largest advancement since seizing the city of Bakhmut in May 2023, almost two years after President Vladimir Putin initiated a full-scale war by ordering the invasion of Ukraine.

According to Russia’s defense ministry, their troops advanced approximately 9 km (5 miles) along the 1,000-km (620-mile) front line, with the military pushing forward after a deadly urban confrontation. Ukraine reported withdrawing its soldiers to prevent complete encirclement after months of fierce combat. President Putin lauded the fall of Avdiivka as a crucial victory and extended congratulations to Russian troops.

“The ‘Centre’ grouping of troops, in an offensive move, achieved full control of the coke plant in Avdiivka,” stated Russia’s defense ministry in a release, accompanied by footage depicting explosions in what appeared to be the plant. The ministry added that Russian flags were raised on the plant’s administrative buildings.

Russian state television broadcasted scenes of Ukrainian flags being lowered in Avdiivka, replaced by Russia’s tricolor flag, symbolizing the change in control.

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Following Ukraine’s inability to breach Russian lines last year, Moscow has sought to wear down Ukrainian forces as Kyiv contemplates a substantial mobilization, and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy appoints a new commander for the ongoing conflict. Russia portrayed the Ukrainian withdrawal as hurried and disorderly, alleging that some soldiers and equipment were abandoned. The Ukrainian military acknowledged casualties but noted a stabilization of the situation after the retreat.

In February 2022, Putin deployed tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine, escalating the conflict to a full-scale war after eight years of skirmishes in eastern Ukraine. Avdiivka, situated in the industrial Donbas region, has endured a decade of conflict and holds particular significance for Russia. The Soviet-era coke plant was one of Europe’s largest before the war.

Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrskyi, Ukraine’s Commander-in-Chief, confirmed the retreat, stating that troops moved to more secure positions outside the town to avoid encirclement and preserve lives. Russia asserted on Saturday that its forces inflicted multiple defeats on Ukrainian forces along the extensive front line. Western intelligence estimates casualties on both sides, though Ukrainian figures are rarely disclosed by the West, while Moscow claims vast losses. The conflict has resulted in hundreds of thousands of men on both sides being killed or wounded, according to Western intelligence assessments.

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