Russia says it has crushed last pocket of resistance in Avdiivka

Russian forces have completed their takeover of Avdiivka by eliminating the last pocket of resistance at the eastern Ukraine city’s huge coke plant, the Russian military said on Monday, after the sheer weight of its troop numbers and greater firepower drove out Kyiv’s forces.

Moscow officials announced on Saturday said they had taken control of Avdiivka. Ukrainian forces confirmed pulling out of the bombed-out city in what amounted to a triumph for the Kremlin even though the four-month battle was costly.

The victory was a morale boost for Russia, days ahead of the two-year anniversary of its full-scale invasion of its neighbour on February 24 2022.

Russia Ukraine
Russian soldiers in the city of Avdiivka, eastern Ukraine (Russian Defence Ministry Press Service via AP)

The Ukrainian troops, meanwhile, were so short of ammunition that they “had to choose between targets,” he said.

Outnumbered and outgunned, they pulled back to previously prepared positions, he said.

The sides were deeply uneven in favour of the Russian forces, he added, quoting Ukrainian intelligence assessments.

“If we are talking about infantry, it’s one to seven. If we are talking about military vehicles it’s one to eight and in terms of artillery, it’s one to 11,” he said.

For Ukraine, the loss underscored its reliance on the supply of Western weapons and ammunition, as hold-ups have left it short of provisions and handicapped in the fight.

However, some Western military analysts believe that Ukraine could counter Russia’s attempt to build up on its Avdiivka success by trying to erect new defence lines in that immediate area and deploying fresh units to hold back Kremlin’s forces.

Even so, the threat of ammunition shortages hangs over Ukraine’s military, with Russia aiming to exploit the moment as the US struggles to get political agreement for more aid and Europe strives to increase production.

“Delays in Western security assistance to Ukraine are likely helping Russia launch opportunistic offensive operations along several sectors of the front line in order to place pressure on Ukrainian forces,” the Institute for the Study of War said in an assessment late on Sunday.

Apart from Avdiivka, Russia is pushing harder in the northeastern Kharkiv region and in southern Zaporizhia, the Washington-based think tank said.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said his country “is doing everything possible and impossible” to defeat Russia.

“Ukrainians have fought heroically before but for the first time in its history Ukraine has achieved such global solidarity and support,” Mr Zelensky said in his daily video address on Sunday evening.

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