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Russia's Avdiivka offensive stalls after initial gains, Ukraine bolstering defenses

Avdiivka
Avdiivka

Russian troops are slowing their offensive around Avdiivka, Donetsk Oblast after making rapid gains earlier. Ukraine has deployed significant forces to defend the area, The New York Times reported on March 9.

After the Russian army captured Avdiivka, Ukraine and its allies feared that the aggressor would be able to quickly advance through strategic hubs and settlements. However, after rapid successes, the Russian offensive stalled near three neighboring villages.

Read also: Russian forces apply tactical adaptations in seizure of Avdiivka — ISW

Military experts name several factors that slow down the Russian advance:

  • terrain that is not suitable for offensive operations

  • exhaustion of Russian troops after months of fighting

  • the Ukrainian army, which has deployed significant forces to defend the area

However, Russia still holds the initiative on the battlefield, and military analysts say that its troops can still break through Ukrainian defense lines due to the lack of American military assistance, the NYT writes.

For now, though, the fighting has turned into the same sort of inconclusive back-and-forth that characterized most of the frontline battles last year.

Read also: Reservoir cascade to enhance Ukrainian military defenses near Avdiivka, Tavria unit commander says

"The capture of Avdiivka did not lead to the collapse of Ukrainian lines, a possibility for the Russians to reach open territory, or even achieve major success," said Thibault Fouillet, Deputy Director of the U.S.-based Institute for Strategic and Defense Studies.

Over the past 10 days, Russia has seized just over a square kilometer of land, and its troops are fighting in the villages of Berdychi, Orlivka, and Tonenke in Donetsk Oblast.

"Russian troops are trying to push forward using small infantry assault groups, but they are being destroyed in the relatively open terrain west of Avdiivka," said Pasi Paroinen, an analyst at Black Bird Group.

If the Russian army captures these three villages, it is unclear what their next steps will be, given that the terrain is hilly and dotted with streams and water bodies, which complicates further advancement, the NYT reports.

Ukrainian Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Oleksandr Syrskyi said on Feb. 17 that the Defense Forces had withdrawn from Avdiivka, Donetsk Oblast, after four months of intense fighting and regular attacks by the Russian troops. According to him, this decision was made to avoid encirclement and to preserve the lives and health of the soldiers.

Read also: Syrskyi faces complex tasks in leading Ukrainian forces — General Mick Ryan

Tavria operational and strategic troop grouping spokesman Dmytro Lykhoviy assured that the withdrawal of troops from Avdiivka was as successful as the circumstances allowed. Commander Oleksandr Tarnavskyi said that Ukraine's defenders have consolidated their positions on new defense lines in the Avdiivka sector.

The Tavria grouping confirmed on Feb. 26 that the Defense Forces had withdrawn from the village of Lastochkyne to organize defense and prevent further advance of the Russian forces.

Lykhoviy said on Feb. 27 that the Defense Forces had withdrawn from the small villages of Severne and Stepove near Avdiivka.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine