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Ukraine says withdraws from position south of embattled Avdiivka

In World
February 17, 2024

KYIV – Ukraine on Feb 17 said it was pulling back from a position on the southern outskirts of front-line city Avdiivka, a main target for Moscow ahead of the second anniversary of the Russian invasion.

Facing a shortage of ammunition and outnumbered on the battlefield, Ukraine may be forced to withdraw from the eastern town, which has become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance against the Russian attack.

The fighting raged as President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Berlin to rally Western support for his country’s cause.

He was later set to travel to Paris and then address the Munich Security Conference on Feb 17.

Russia’s forces in October mounted a costly bid to seize Avdiivka, resulting in massive damage to the town and heavy casualties, reminiscent of the battle for Bakhmut.

“After many months of confrontation, the command decided to withdraw from the Zenit position on the southeastern outskirts of Avdiivka,” General Oleksandr Tarnavsky, a Ukrainian general in the east, said on social media.

He noted that the move was made to “save personnel and improve the operational situation”, adding that the withdrawal did “not give the enemy a strategic advantage”.

Mr Zelensky said the army was taking on new approaches, with commanders doing “everything to protect our people first and foremost”.

“This is the main signal from me. Our military is the most important thing we have,” he added.

‘Evacuate or not’

The battle for the industrial hub, less than 10km north of the Russian-controlled city of Donetsk, has been one of the bloodiest of the two-year war.

Almost every building has been damaged or destroyed, according to the Centre for Information Resilience.

Despite daily shelling, almost 1,000 residents have remained in the town, once home to over 30,000 people, its mayor, Mr Vitaly Barabash, said in early February.

“We are well aware of what Russia is doing to our towns and villages. They will not stop until they have completely destroyed all life there,” Mr Zelensky said.

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