Fierce Russian offensive, the Ukrainian city of Avdiivka falls: the Kiev army retreats


By John

The Ukrainian army has withdrawn from Avdiivka, the city on the eastern front that has been facing a ferocious Russian offensive for months. Moscow thus achieved its greatest victory since the failure of Kiev’s counteroffensive last summer.

“According to the order received, we retreated from Avdiivka to the positions prepared in advance,” General Tarnavski wrote in a Telegram message, having yesterday recognized that fighting was taking place in the streets within the city.

Since October, Ukrainian soldiers, numerically and materially inferior, have resisted Russian attacks against this town in the Donbas mining basin, where the situation had become particularly critical in recent days.

“In a situation where the enemy is advancing on the corpses of its soldiers and has ten times more howitzers, this is the only good solution”, Tarnavski justified himself by announcing his withdrawal.

The general stressed that his forces have avoided being surrounded by the enemy and are already positioned in the new defense lines.

The withdrawal from Avdiivka is the first major military decision of Kiev’s new commander-in-chief, Oleksander Sirski, appointed on February 8. “I have decided to withdraw our units from the city and move to defense on more favorable lines,” Sirski wrote on his Facebook page. “Our soldiers performed their military duty with dignity, did everything possible to destroy the best Russian military units and inflict significant losses on the enemy,” he added.

Avdiivka has become the symbol of the resistance of Kiev’s forces as the second anniversary of the start of the invasion launched by Moscow against the former Soviet republic on February 24, 2022 approaches.

The city was briefly occupied in July 2014 by pro-Russian separatists, but returned to the control of Kiev, which had held it all this time despite its proximity to Donetsk, a separatist stronghold in eastern Ukraine .

Avdiivka represents the most significant advance for Russia since the conquest of Bakhmut in May 2023, after months of fierce fighting that left thousands dead.

Although it has been largely destroyed, around 900 civilians remain there, according to local authorities. Russia hopes its takeover will make Ukraine’s bombing of Donetsk more difficult.

On another front, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made diplomatic progress with a tour of Berlin and Paris on Friday to ensure Western powers continue to help Kiev.

During his visits, the Ukrainian leader signed security agreements with the head of the German government, Olaf Scholz, and the French president, Emmanuel Macron. The agreements include an increase in military aid. Today Zelensky will plead before the Munich Security Conference for the continuation of international financial assistance, at a time when the delivery of funds from his main donor, the United States, is suspended due to fighting in Congress between Democrats and Republicans.

Since the failure of its counteroffensive in the summer of 2023, Ukraine has faced offensive Russian troops, shortages of men, weapons and ammunition, and uncertainty over continued Western aid. “We are doing everything possible to ensure that our fighters have sufficient organizational and technological capabilities to save as many Ukrainian lives as possible,” Zelensky said. The German research institute Kiel Institute said on Friday that the European Union will have to “at least double military aid” to Ukraine to compensate for US inaction.