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regular-article-logo Saturday, 18 May 2024

Ukrainian forces withdraw from eastern city of Avdiivka amid Russian onslaught

Outnumbered Ukrainian defenders battled a Russian assault for four months in the key city. Ukrainian commander Oleksandr Syrskyi said he had made the decision to avoid encirclement

Deutsche Welle Published 17.02.24, 03:05 PM
Outnumbered Ukrainian defenders battled a Russian assault for four months in the key city

Outnumbered Ukrainian defenders battled a Russian assault for four months in the key city Deutsche Welle

Ukrainian troops have withdrawn from the eastern city of Avdiivka to avoid encirclement.

The chief of Ukraine's armed forces, Oleksandr Syrskyi, said his forces were moving to "more favorable lines."

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The withdrawal comes only days ahead of Russia's war in Ukraine entering its third year on February 24.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed agreements with Germany and France, guaranteeing continued support for Kyiv for years.

Here's a look at the latest developments in Russia's war in Ukraine on Saturday, February 17.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called on his country's supporters to step up efforts against Russian aggression and President Vladimir Putin.

"If we don't act now, Putin will succeed in turning the next few years into a catastrophe," he said at the Munich Security Conference.

Zelenskyy warned that the longer the war goes on, the greater the risk of expansion and further damage to the international order.

According to Zelenskyy, Russia has only one decisive advantage in its war of aggression against Ukraine. "Human life has no value for the Russian state," Zelensky says.

Russian President Vladimir "kills whoever he wants," Zelensky said, referring to the death of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Asked about the withdrawal of Ukrainian forces from the eastern city of Avdiivka, Zelenskyy said the decision was made to save Ukrainian lives by withdrawing troops.

Four people were killed and four others were injured in what a Moscow-installed local official said was a Ukrainian attack on the Russian-occupied region of Donetsk.

Dmitry Shevchenko, proxy head of the local Yasynuvata municipality, said that Kyiv targeted the town of Panteleimonivka, which is some 20 kilometers (12 miles) northeast of Donetsk city.

Four people were killed, including a girl born in 2009, and six people were injured, including a girl born in 2013 and a boy born in 2015, as a result of the morning shelling, Shevchenko said in a statement on the Telegram messaging platform.

The authenticity of his report on the shelling could not be independently verified.

Both Russia and Ukraine have recently accused one another of an escalation in attacks targeting civilian areas.

Ukrainian troops withdrew from the eastern city of Avdiivka, Kyiv announced on Saturday, amid acute ammunition shortages.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby warned Thursday that Avdiivka was at risk of falling to Russia, a development he blamed "in very large part" on the fact that Ukrainian forces are running out of artillery ammunition.

With US military aid delayed for months in Congress, Ukraine is facing acute ammunition shortages.

At the same time, the setback strengthens President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's plea for urgent Western military support ahead of his address at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.

Ukraine's military says it was withdrawing its troops from Avdiivka after months of fierce Russian attacks.

The chief of Ukraine's armed forces, Oleksandr Syrskyi, said he ordered the withdrawal to avoid encirclement.

"In a situation where the enemy is advancing over the corpses of their own soldiers with a ten-to-one shelling advantage, under constant bombardment, this is the only right decision," he said.

"Encirclement was prevented, personnel were withdrawn, and our soldiers took up defense at the designated lines." Syrskyi added.

It marks the most significant change on the front line since Russian troops seized the nearby town of Bakhmut.

Capturing the eastern city is key to Moscow's aim of securing complete control of the two provinces that comprise the industrial Donbas region.

They have been trying to capture Avdiivka since October 2023, suffering heavy losses.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed off on an "ambitious" security deal Friday with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris. The deal will last 10 years and includes a French promise of up to €3 billion ($3.2 billion) in aid for 2024.

Earlier, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Zelenskyy signed a bilateral security agreement valued at €1.1 billion ($1.18 billion) to help in the fight against Russia's invasion.

Also on Friday, the Germany-based Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW) said the European Union would need to double its military funding to Ukraine to fill a gap left by a possible US withdrawal.

"It is highly uncertain whether the US will send further military aid in 2024," the researchers said in a new report on the state of play of military, financial, and humanitarian aid to the war-battered country since the Russian invasion on February 24, 2022.

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