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Ukraine withdraws its troops from Avdiivka, a victory for Russia

Photo: Genya Savilov Agence France-Presse Moscow hopes that the capture of Avdiivka by its troops will make Ukrainian bombing of Donetsk more difficult. Above, a Ukrainian Caesar 155mm self-propelled artillery.

France Media Agency to kyiv

9:50 p.m.

  • Europe

The Ukrainian army was forced to abandon the eastern town of Avdiivka on Saturday, handing Russia its biggest symbolic victory after the failure of the counter -offensive launched by Kiev last summer.

“In accordance with the order received, [we] withdrew from Avdiïvka to positions prepared in advance,” announced Ukrainian General Oleksandr Tarnavsky, who commands this area, in a message published on the social network Telegram during the night from Friday to Saturday (local time).

Faced with a growing lack of resources due in particular to the blocking of American military aid, Ukraine could hardly avoid this withdrawal in the face of Russia which, with more soldiers and ammunition, was pushing his troops to achieve a conquest a few days before the second anniversary of the start of the invasion, February 24.

“In the situation where the enemy advances by stepping on the corpses of its own soldiers and has ten times more shells […] this is the only right decision,” continued General Tarnavsky . The Ukrainian forces thus avoided encirclement, near this largely destroyed industrial city, he assured.

This is a first major decision by the new commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armies Oleksandr Syrsky after his appointment to this post on February 8. He justified it by the desire to “preserve” the lives of his soldiers.

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“With dignity”

“I decided to withdraw our units from the city and switch to defense on more favorable lines,” Oleksandr Syrsky previously wrote on Facebook. “Our soldiers performed their military duty with dignity, did everything possible to destroy the best Russian military units and inflicted significant losses on the enemy,” continued General Syrsky.

Before formalizing the abandonment of the city, General Tarnavsky acknowledged that “several soldiers” of Ukraine had been “captured” by Russian forces, who were “surplus in terms of numbers, artillery and aviation.”

Avdiïvka, which had around 34,000 inhabitants before the Russian invasion launched in February 2022, has an important symbolic value.

The city is now largely destroyed but some 900 civilians remain there, according to local authorities. Moscow hopes its capture will make Ukrainian bombing of Donetsk more difficult.

The city briefly fell in July 2014 into the hands of pro-Russian separatists led by Moscow, before returning to Ukrainian control and remaining so despite the invasion and its proximity to Donetsk, the separatist capital in eastern Ukraine since ten years.

According to kyiv, the Russian army has been multiplying assault waves since October to take Avdiïvka, despite very high human losses, a situation reminiscent of the battle of Bakhmut, a city that Moscow conquered in May 2023 after 10 months of fighting at the cost of tens of thousands of dead and wounded.

After the failure of the Ukrainian summer counter-offensive, it was the Russians who attacked, facing a Ukrainian army which was struggling to replenish its ranks and which was lacking ammunition.

The capture of Avdiivka comes at a time when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is leading a European tour. He had indicated from Berlin that he was in permanent contact with the military command, whose main task, according to him, was to preserve the lives of soldiers and “minimize losses”.

In this tense context, Mr. Zelensky signed two bilateral security agreements on Friday in Berlin with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and then in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron. He plans to attend the Security Conference in Munich on Saturday and meet with US Vice President Kamala Harris.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116