Ukrainian troops facing “hellish” conditions as Russia throws everything it has at town of Avdiivka

(CNN)- A Ukrainian drone detects Russian soldiers hiding in the remains of what was once someone’s home amid a landscape of burnt earth, craters and treeless woods.

Another drone with a smaller weapon approaches and explodes on impact. Go ahead for a second. Then third. In the end, the Russian unit was wiped out.

“We are defaming the occupiers,” says the drone controller, a Ukrainian unit fighting to keep the key town of Avdiivka out of Moscow’s control, which shared video footage of the attacks with CNN. Have shared.

For the drone operators, it’s a victory, but such victories are becoming rare in this part of Ukraine, as Moscow throws everything it has at this small, dilapidated and now largely deserted town.

In a stark reflection of the importance of Avdiivka, northwest of the city of Donetsk, the new head of the Ukrainian army, Oleksandr Sirsky, and Ukraine’s defense minister, Rustam Umerov, met with frontline troops this week.

“The operational situation is extremely complex and stressful,” Sierski acknowledged. “We are doing everything possible to stop the enemy from advancing into our area and maintain our positions.”

Quelling rumors that Ukraine was considering withdrawing from Avdiivka, Sirsky sent additional troops.

It fielded one of the most battle-hardened Ukrainian units, the 3rd Separate Assault Brigade, which received praise for its daring attacks against Russian forces around Bakhmut.

“We have taken a number of important decisions aimed at strengthening the combat capabilities of our military units and preventing enemy activities,” Sirski said during his visit to the front line.

On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky promised “maximum attention” to the eastern front and said the new army chief’s visit to the region would help solve problems facing units on the ground.

“Existing problems are being solved: deploying units, reinforcement, command and control,” Zelensky said in his evening speech. “We will be strengthened with drones, electronic warfare and command posts will also be strengthened.”

But just days later, amid the continuing Russian attack, reinforcements were also describing “hellish” conditions.

“Our brigade is performing combat missions in conditions that we can hardly imagine,” Maxim Zorin, deputy commander of the 3rd Separate Assault Brigade, said in a battlefield report Thursday. “The battles of Avdiivka are many times more hellish than the hottest battles of this stage of the war, which took place at Bakhmut.”

As it did at Bakhmut this time last year, Russia is giving everything it has at Avdeevka in the quest for victory, bombarding the city with airstrikes and artillery, while launching a series of ground attacks with armored vehicles and troops. The latter one is starting to make waves.

This has turned the city into a Ukrainian military “meat grinder”.

During the invasion, Russia has suffered heavy losses (so large that they may force other armies to regroup and reconsider), but Moscow is calculating that those losses will be worth it, given its numerical advantage. Are.

During the invasion, Russia has suffered heavy losses – so large that they may force other armies to regroup and reconsider – but Moscow is calculating that these losses are worth it, given its numerical advantage. .

Zorin said, “The enemy is huge and comes from all sides.”

‘I do not go anywhere’

Other video images from Avdiivka show a completely different side of the city’s plight.

Scenes captured by the body cameras of two Ukrainian police officers seen by CNN show the moment they approach an elderly, gray-haired resident in an attempt to convince him to evacuate the city.

As the police approach, the old man walks away holding the smartphone in his hand. On the other end of the call is the man’s adult daughter, who is trying to convince him to go.

“I’m not going anywhere,” he tells her.

“I will send you money and you will come to Kherson to see me,” her daughter pleads desperately. “I’ll pay for travel and accommodation.”

A resident of Avdiivka, Ukraine, near destroyed buildings on February 14. Kostiantyn Liberov/Libcos/Getty Images

But their screams do not reach deaf ears.

The officers who contacted the man on the phone are part of a special Ukrainian police unit known as the “White Angels”, tasked with helping vulnerable civilians flee the city, Where two years ago 30,000 people lived.

This year they have already evacuated more than 120 people, mostly elderly but also some children. Many of these battle-hardened civilians have experienced some level of conflict since Avdiivka, about 20 kilometers from the city of Donetsk, became a front line against Russian-backed militias in 2015.

Reluctant to leave, many resisted Russia’s first push for a full-scale invasion in February 2022 until they could no longer afford it. Now, as Russian bombing has intensified since late last year, there is nothing left.

Other images collected by Ukrainian units show scenes of destruction, with holes left in high-rise buildings from sustained Russian bombardment. Some skyscrapers have completely collapsed and most of the smaller buildings have been reduced to piles of debris.

counter attack

The Russian attack on Avdiivka follows Ukraine’s uncoordinated counteroffensive over the summer and the faltering of Western support for Kiev. European shipments of ammunition and financial aid have been delayed due to Brussels’ notorious bureaucracy and some resistance from Hungary – but it is Washington’s delays that worry Kiev most.

The United States has been Ukraine’s biggest supporter since day one, but its continued military support has become a divisive issue among lawmakers. According to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the reluctance of Trump-supporting Republicans to support the White House is giving Putin and Russia an advantage.

“We are already seeing the impact of the fact that the United States is not able to make decisions,” Stoltenberg said in an interview Thursday.

Ukrainian soldiers of the 47th Mechanized Brigade prepare for battle in a Bradley fighting vehicle near Avdiivka on February 11, 2024. Zhenya Savilov/AFP/Getty Images

The 3rd Separate Assault Brigade, which is clearly outnumbered and outgunned, acknowledges that the situation is “critical”, but insists that it will continue to defend itself and has seriously engaged the two Russian brigades. Claimed to have been damaged by.

CNN cannot independently verify the claim, although recent geo-located battle footage in the city shows Russia suffering heavy losses even as it gains territory there.

However, even if the claim is true, the Brigade is well aware that Russia has many more troops to compensate for its losses as it “continues to actively rotate its troops and deploy new forces and equipment into the city.” Is.”

“We are forced to fight 360 degrees against the new brigade deployed by the enemy,” says Andrey Biletsky, commander of the 3rd Brigade. “Our soldiers are demonstrating unprecedented heroism.”

Vasko Kotovyo wrote in London, Olga Voitovich and Svetlana Vlasova reported from Kiev, Ukraine.

Source link

About Admin

Check Also

Petro says Maria Corina Machado’s disqualification an “undemocratic coup”

(CNN Spanish) — Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro spoke this Monday about the electoral process in ... Read more

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *