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Ukraine resists Russia's onslaught in Avdiivka, the new 'battle of Bakhmut'


The Kremlin intensifies its attacks around the city in eastern Donbas. kyiv receives first Challenger tanks from UK, following 18 German Leopards arrived on Monday

Military tension is increasing in the city of Avdiivka, in the eastern region of Donbas and torn by war since 2014, where the two armies, the Ukrainian and the Russian, measure their forces while sending reinforcements.

It is a town located ten kilometers from the city of Donetsk and in which there is hardly any civilian population left.

Moscow has deployed mercenaries from the Wagner company there, but with more training and skills than the thousands of former inmates employed on other fronts in eastern Ukraine, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

In its attempt to encircle and take Avdiivka, Moscow is suffering heavy tank losses without making any notable progress, according to data from the British Ministry of Defense.

These complications on the ground add to the difficulties that both kyiv and Moscow have faced since last summer in the bloody battle of Bakhmut, 90 kilometers from Avdiivka.

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The Avdiivka enclave is already considered a second Bakhmut, Ukrainian military spokesman Oleksii Dmitrashkivskii acknowledged last week.

Since then, due to constant Russian shelling, the local authorities have denied access to volunteers to carry out evacuations.

Avdiivka's population was about 32,000 before the war.

These days, only some 2,000 civilians remain, without electricity, gas or water, of whom seven are children, according to estimates by Vitalii Barabash, head of the military administration.

"There are irresponsible parents who hide their children and do not agree to leave the city," he criticizes, according to a few words published by The

Kyiv Independent

newspaper .

After more than half a year of hostilities at the highest level, Bakhmut continues to be a well through which thousands of lives escape from both sides.

Holding on there means exhausting the enemy and inflicting as many casualties as possible, according to General Oleksandr Sirskii, who commands the ground forces and has visited his troops on that front.

For their part, Russian forces claim to already control the Bakhmut industrial zone, Denis Pushilin, head of Moscow-imposed authority in Donetsk, said on Tuesday.

But in order to advance or develop a counteroffensive with guarantees, kyiv continues to demand more weapons and ammunition from its allies.

The Ministry of Defense announced on Tuesday the arrival of the first two British-made Challenger tanks.

They join the 18 German-made Leopards that Berlin transferred to Ukraine on Monday, and those sent in recent weeks by Poland (4) and Norway (8).

Ukraine suffered, on the night of Monday to Tuesday, a new attack through the massive launch of Iranian-made bomb drones from Russian territory, according to Ukrainian military sources.

14 of the 15 aircraft were shot down, most of them aimed at the kyiv region, and there were no casualties, although one of them caused a fire.

Wagner's Mercenaries

As in Bakhmut, Russia is pulling in mercenaries from the Wagner group to increase its deployment in Avdiivka, where it has made gains on its positions in recent days, according to the ISW.

The sending of these reinforcements would, however, be of a higher level than that made up of thousands of ex-convicts sent to Bakhmut with little preparation and used as cannon fodder in recent months, according to this United States-based think tank.

The appearance of an obituary that would certify the death on March 20 in Avdiivka of a Wagner chief named Yevgeni Malgotin would prove that Moscow has raised the level of the uniformed officers it is sending to try to conquer that town.

“Malgotin appears to have been an experienced fighter and probably represents the highest profile of a fighter in Wagner's special operations forces,” the ISW understands.

In this way, they add, they support "the exhausted and less prepared elements of the (self-proclaimed) Donetsk People's Republic (DNR)" deployed in the area, thus, the latest advances can be explained.

"Our main task is to wear down the overwhelming forces of the enemy and inflict heavy losses on him," General Sirskii said in a video posted on Telegram in which he appears in Bakhmut with some of his men.

He acknowledges that Russia does not cease its attempt to completely surround and conquer that city, which before the war had some 70,000 inhabitants and where now only a handful of residents remain.

The presence in recent days near Bakhmut of President Volodímir Zelenski explains the importance that kyiv attaches to an enclave that, without being strategic, has become a key battle for the two contenders.

Sirskii acknowledges that the city is going through difficult times for its military, but that they are not going to adopt the strategy of handing it over to stop the bleeding of casualties.

It was last February when the advances of the Russians in street-to-street and house-to-house clashes made the local troops withdraw.

Many thought that Bakhmut's fall from the invading side was a matter of days.

Some soldiers even reported hand-to-hand confrontations.

But the weeks go by and the positions have stagnated again.

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2023-03-28

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