Russian forces launched a large-scale attack on the town of Avdiïvka, in eastern Ukraine, indicated Tuesday the belligerents, a Russian assault which comes after months of a sluggish Ukrainian counter-offensive.
At the end of the day, however, the Ukrainian army assured that it had succeeded in repelling this assault.
Avdiïvka is an industrial city in the Ukrainian Donbass that Moscow and its separatist allies are trying to conquer since 2014. This new attempt seems to worry the Ukrainian authorities.
“The Russians have been striking massively with their artillery since 8 a.m. (05:00 GMT), without interruption until now (…) The enemy is trying to encircle the city,” he told AFP at the start of 'afternoon the head of the military administration of the locality, Vitaly Barabas.
“For more than a year, the risk of the town being occupied has existed, but today the situation is “is rapidly worsening,” he added.
According to him, some 1,600 residents still live in Avdiïvka, compared to 30,000 before the Russian invasion.
The head of the Ukrainian presidential administration, Andriï Iermak, also reported a major attack.
“Our Avdiïvka is the target of massive attacks by Russian artillery and aviation. Terrorists are attacking the city, residential buildings,” he wrote on Twitter).
Later, the Ukrainian army announced that it had “repulsed all enemy attacks and prevented the loss of positions and lines” in the Avdiivka sector.
The Russians occupy areas to the east, south and north of the town and have been trying for months to encircle it, without succeeding so far.
– Risk of encirclement –
Ukraine: the Russians are trying to take Avdiïvka © AFP – Sylvie HUSSON, Valentina BRESCHI
Avdiïvka, built around a large coking plant, is located 13 km from Donetsk, the capital, under Russian control, of the eponymous region whose annexation Vladimir Putin claimed a year ago.
It has been in the front zone since 2014, when the war began between the Ukrainian army and separatists led and armed by Russia, following the annexation of the Crimean peninsula. The area is therefore particularly fortified.
Since the invasion of February 2022, the Russians have regularly attempted offensives to take Avdiïvka.
According to the Telegram Rybar channel, close to the Russian army, Moscow forces have this time launched an attack to the north and two from the south of the city, so that there is now “an imminent risk of encirclement of the Ukrainian garrison”.
The crater left by a Russian strike in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, October 6, 2023 © AFP – SERGEY BOBOK
“In view of the lack of coordination between the different Ukrainian formations, the “The attack was a surprise for them. But there may very soon be the sending of reinforcements to stabilize the front,” notes Rybar, publishing a map of the operations.
Earlier in the day, an advisor to Denis Pushilin, the head of the occupation in the Donetsk region, also welcomed the progress.
“There is progress in Avdiïvka, losses among the adversary,” this advisor, Ian Gaguine, told the Ria Novosti agency, according to which “during the last 24 hours, at least two enemy fortifications have been destroyed.”
– Zelensky in Romania –
Ukraine launched a counter-offensive in June to try to liberate its occupied territories. But so far, progress has been limited, and Moscow regularly attempts its own attacks to force the Ukrainian army to reconsider its plans.
The Ukrainian campaign is proving very difficult, not least because Russia has built a very elaborate network of fortifications made up of minefields, anti-tank traps and trenches.
The Ukrainian army also lacks long-range munitions to destroy Russian supply lines. Russia also has more men and more artillery ammunition. She dominates in the air with her aviation.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Bucharest on October 10, 2023 © AFP – Daniel MIHAILESCU
Kiev has been demanding for months that the West accelerate its aid and give it planes and missiles of more than 100 km range.
Ukraine also suspects Russia of preparing, like last winter, a vast campaign of bombing of its energy infrastructures to plunge the population into darkness and cold.
The Russian army is bombing already port areas to prevent Ukrainians from exporting their agricultural production.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was also in Romania on Tuesday, a visit which comes after strikes targeting ports on the Danube, located on the border between the two countries, and become crucial for getting grain out of Ukraine.
The Ukrainian army is trying for its part to bring the war to Russian territory by bombing border areas and launching drones aimed at military bases and Russian towns.
Two civilians were killed Tuesday in a strike against the Russian region of Belgorod, bordering Ukraine, local governor Vyacheslav said on Telegram Gladkov.
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