MOSCOW: Russian forces have made gains in their Ukraine offensive, President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday, including in Avdiivka, a symbolic industrial hub where fighting has been fierce.
Ukrainian forces say they continue to repel Moscow’s troops in the area.
“Our troops are improving their position in almost all of this area, which is quite vast,” Putin said in an interview on Russian television, an extract of which was posted on social media on Sunday. “This concerns the areas of Kupiansk, Zaporizhzhia and Avdiivka,” Putin said, praising the army’s “active defence strategy”.
On Saturday, Ukraine reported “very heated” fighting around Avdiivka, saying Russian forces had “not stopped assaulting” it for days in their attempt to surround it.
On Sunday the Ukraine police said in a statement that “Russians shelled Avdiivka with artillery, shells hit a private house and killed a man”.
Kyiv said last week that Russia had stepped up assaults on the frontline city, which lies just 15 kilometres from Moscow-held Donetsk. Avdiivka, which is built around a vast coking plant, has been a symbol of Ukrainian resistance since 2014, when it briefly fell to Russian-backed separatists.
It has since marked the front line. Avdiivka was regularly bombed even before Russia’s full-scale military offensive began in February 2022 and the area is heavily fortified.
It would be more of a symbolic victory than a strategic one if Russia does capture Avdiivka, given that the town has represented Ukrainian resistance to Russian assaults for so long. Russian forces now control territory to the east, north and south of the town.
They are gradually tightening the noose around it in a bid to push Ukrainian forces further away from the Russian-occupied city of Donetsk, which is bombed almost daily by Kyiv’s forces.
Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2023