Avdiivka's Mayor Says Russian Forces Entering City Were Repelled

Avdiivka’s Mayor Says Russian Forces Entering City Were Repelled

Russian forces recently entered Avdiivka for the first time but were promptly pushed back, the city’s mayor told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Wednesday.

“Russian sabotage and reconnaissance groups entered the southern part of the city of Avdiivka, but they were dislodged,” Avdiivka Mayor Vitaliy Barabash told AFP.

Avdiivka and its surrounding areas in Ukraine’s Donetsk Oblast have seen heavy fighting for months as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces have relentlessly attempted to capture the small city. Western analysts initially thought Ukraine’s defenses could hold in Avdiivka. However, Moscow has continued to devote considerable resources and personnel in its efforts to breach a city that could expand Russia’s logistical operations in the region.

Barabash’s comments to AFP followed reports from prominent pro-Kremlin bloggers, who claimed Moscow’s forces had made gains on the southern flank of the settlement.

A rocket lies on the streets of Avdiivka, Ukraine, on December 31, 2023. Avdiivka’s mayor told a news agency that Russian forces entering the city had been “dislodged.”

Photo by Pierre Crom/GETTY IMAGES
Well-known military bloggers Rybar said Russia’s military had achieved a “breakthrough” in a residential area of Avdiivka and were continuing to advance. The Thirteenth Telegram channel added that battles were “taking place on the streets” of Avdiivka following Russia’s recent advances.

Newsweek could not independently verify Barabash’s report or claims made by Russian bloggers. The Russian and Ukrainian ministries of defense were contacted via email on Wednesday for comment.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) also reported Russia made recent gains on the Avdiivka front in its Tuesday assessment of the war, citing Ukrainian and Russian sources who “stated that positional fighting continued” near Avdiivka. The U.S.-based think tank also said geolocated footage indicated Russian forces advanced in nearby settlements such as Stepove.

Barabash did not tell AFP when Russia’s military entered his city or if any of the forces remained, but he said “the situation is under the control of the armed forces. The situation is difficult but controlled.”

Last month, the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense said Avdiivka was the scene of the most intense combat on the front after analyzing data from Kyiv, and Barabash reported to AFP that less than 1,100 civilians remain in the city. A recent Reuters estimate put Avdiivka’s pre-war population at around 32,000.

Russia has also seen heavy losses in Avdiivka. Estimates vary, but it’s believed Putin’s military has sustained thousands of deaths in its efforts to take the city.

“Thousands, thousands of killed Russian soldiers, nobody even took them away,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told The Economist in an article published in early January.

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