The Russian army advances on the front in Ukraine, including around the town of Avdiïvka (east) , target of a large-scale assault by Moscow's troops aimed at surround it, said Sunday Vladimir Putin, the Ukrainian forces still ensuring on their side "push back" this offensive.
“Our troops are improving their position in almost all of this space, a fairly large space,” he declared in an interview on Russian television, an extract of which was published on the social networks of the journalist asked Pavel Zaroubin.
“This concerns the areas of Koupiansk, Zaporizhia and Avdiïvka”, added Mr. Putin, welcoming this strategy of “active defense” carried out by his army.
These statements by the Russian president, particularly on the situation around Avdiïvka, come at a time when his army said it had made progress in the sector, determined to take this town located less than 15 km north of Donetsk, the capital, under Russian control, of the eponymous region whose annexation Mr. Putin claimed more than a year ago.
Russia's capture of Avdiïvka, built around a large coking plant, would above all be a symbolic victory rather than a strategic one, as this town represents Ukrainian resistance to Russian assaults since 2014.
< img class="aligncenter" src="/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/e6f6d015720027c624eb444516a23518.jpg" alt="Ukraine: the Russian army is advancing, including around Avdiïvka, according to Putin"/>
Ukraine: Avdiïvka, target of a large-scale Russian offensive © AFP – Sylvie HUSSON, Valentina BRESCHI, Paz PIZARRO
Avdiïvka had in fact briefly fallen into the hands, in July 2014, of pro-Russian separatists led and armed by Moscow, before returning to Ukrainian control.
Since then, it has marked the front line in this area and was already regularly bombarded even before the Russian offensive in Ukraine in February 2022. This area is therefore particularly fortified.
In recent weeks, Russian forces have managed to take control in the north and south of the city, while dominating the east, gradually tightening the grip, with the hope, ultimately, of pushing back the Ukrainian army. further from the regional capital Donetsk, which suffers Ukrainian bombings almost every day.
Several analysts, based on open source images of this assault available on social networks, have however reported significant Russian losses in terms of military equipment.
– “Without success”, swears Kiev –
For its part, the Ukrainian army, in its daily bulletin on Sunday, brushed aside all Russian assertions, assuring that its men had “repulsed” Moscow's attacks in the Avdiivka area. “The enemy keeps trying to break through our defense, but without success,” she said.
Soldiers of the First Ukrainian Presidential Brigade “Bureviy” on an armored personnel carrier take part in military exercises in the Chernihiv region, in a frontline deployment, October 13, 2023 © AFP – Sergei SUPINSKY
On Saturday, the Ukrainian mayor of the city Vitaly Barabach nevertheless judged the situation on the ground to be “very tense”, with the Russians trying, according to him, to “encircle the city” with “more and more of troops”.
On Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky swore that his army “held firm” and resisted the assault.
According to Mayor M. Barabach, a little more than 1,600 civilians remain in Avdiïvka and evacuations are difficult there due to constant bombing. Before the Russian offensive, the city had 30,000 inhabitants.
The Russian attack on Avdiivka comes after four months of a difficult Ukrainian counter-offensive in the east and south, the Kiev army having only retaken a few villages at this stage despite Western military support.
Ukraine: the positions of the military forces as of October 12 © AFP – Sabrina BLANCHARD, Sophie RAMIS, Nalini LEPETIT-CHELLA
Vladimir Putin once again repeated on Sunday that this counter-offensive had, according to him, “completely failed”. “We know that in certain combat zones, the opposing party is preparing new offensive operations. We see it, we know it. And we react accordingly,” he nevertheless stressed.
Elsewhere in Ukraine, several Russian strikes since Saturday morning have left four dead and three injured in the region of Kharkiv (east) and Kherson (south), according to regional authorities.
In the area occupied by Moscow in the Kherson region, three civilians were killed and another injured on Saturday, according to official Vladimir Saldo.
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