Ukraine ordered all remaining civilians to evacuate the front-line city of Avdiivka in the eastern Donetsk province Monday, describing it as a “post-apocalyptic” moonscape due to constant Russian missile and rocket attacks.
“It’s a shame to admit it, but Avdiivka is increasingly becoming like a place from post-apocalyptic movies or… on its way to being destroyed by [Russian fascists] like Mariinka,” Vitalii Barabash, head of the Avdiivka city military administration, wrote in a Facebook post.
“Therefore, a difficult decision was made to evacuate from Avdíivka the rest of our heroes – utility workers, who at least somehow tried to maintain the cleanliness and vitality of the city,” Barabash continued. “So now I don’t ask, I strongly recommend leaving Avdiivka, because Russian rockets and missiles do not spare anyone and anything…”
Avdiivka, which had a population of more than 32,000 before the outbreak of the war, is located just 55 miles south of the strategically important city of Bakhmut, which Russian forces have failed to capture after six months of some of the conflict’s bloodiest battles.
Last week, Ukrainian officials warned that Avdiivka could become a “second Bakhmut” as Moscow pivots its attention there. Only around 2,000 residents remain in the largely obliterated city.
A top Ukrainian general said Kyiv was planning its next move in a bid to grind down Moscow’s regular troops and Wagner Group mercenaries, before launching a large-scale spring counteroffensive to try and dislodge the enemy from all the territories it has seized.
Ukrainian ground forces commander Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi visited the front line in the east and said his soldiers were still fighting off Russian attacks on Bakhmut.
Defending the city was a “military necessity,” said Syrskyi, praising Ukrainian resilience in “extremely difficult conditions.”
An update from the Ukraine military’s General Staff said Kyiv’s forces have repelled 41 attacks on Bakhmut, Avdiivvka, and Mariinka in the past 24 hours.
Ukraine is apparently waiting for modern weapons pledged by its Western allies during the winter to arrive before launching its assault.
The 18 Leopard 2 main battle tanks promised by Germany have already reached Ukraine, along with 40 German Marder infantry fighting vehicles, and two armored recovery vehicles, a security source told Reuters.
Beyond the German military equipment, Ukraine has also received its first British Challenger battle tanks, along with Stryker infantry fighting vehicles and Cougar infantry mobility vehicles from the US, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov announced on social media.
Meanwhile, two people were killed and 32 wounded Monday after Russian forces fired two S-300 missiles at the eastern city of Sloviansk northwest of Bakhmut, according to regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko.
President Volodymyr Zelensky toured the southeastern Zaporizhzhia region, his third trip to the front line in less than a week. He handed out state awards to soldiers, visited wounded troops in a hospital and met with International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi, who also traveled to the region, to discuss nuclear safety.
The meeting came just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced plans to stage tactical nuclear weapons in neighboring Belarus.
With Post wires
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