Russian forces have stepped up their assaults on the Ukrainian stronghold of Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine, making limited and costly gains in a furious attempt to encircle the long-battered city after months of failing to advance deeper into eastern Ukraine.
Ukrainian officials have said in recent days that Avdiivka is turning into another Bakhmut, the eastern city that Russian forces have sought to capture by sending waves of lightly trained recruits on near-suicidal attacks on Ukrainian defensive lines.
In Avdiivka, as in Bakhmut, Ukraine says that Russian advances are also threatening key supply lines while bombardments are killing civilians.
Local officials said on Tuesday that a woman had been killed and two more civilians injured when a shell fired from a tank blasted the city centre.
“Russians are intensively attacking from both sides, from the south and the north,” Major Maksym Morozov, a member of the Special Forces regiment fighting in the area, told the Ukrainian news media on Monday night.
He added that the Russian tactic of using waves of soldiers — dubbed “cannon fodder” by the Ukrainians — was having some success.
“First, cannon fodder goes to expose our firing positions, and then professionals behind them quickly and accurately try to extinguish our firing lines,” he said.
But he said that Ukrainian artillery and tanks were firing back at the Russian forces, who “have to pay a rather high price for this advance”.
Avdiivka is about 24km west of the city of Donetsk, which Russian proxy forces took over in 2014. But Avdiivka had not experienced violence on the scale unleashed in Russia’s full-scale invasion last year.
New York Times News Service