Unrelenting Russian attacks on Avdiivka, shelling kills four in south, Ukraine says
Ukrainian forces staved off unrelenting Russian attacks on the devastated eastern Ukraine city of Avdiivka on Thursday, a senior official said, and Russian shelling killed four people on the war's southern front in Kherson region.
With little movement along the 1,000-km (600-mile) front line, Moscow has been focused since mid-October on capturing Avdiivka, a town noted for its vast coking plant and proximity to the Russian-held regional centre of Donetsk.
Vitaliy Barabash, head of Avdiivka's military administration, said Russian forces had unleashed "the fiercest" attacks on the devastated town, where fewer than 1,400 of 32,000 pre-war residents remain.
"Basically, nothing has changed. Everything is very tough. As regards the city, there is an average number of eight to 16 to 18 air attacks per day. Sometimes 30. We don't have time to count them," Barabash told Channel 24 television.
"I am pleased the defence line has been holding for a month and a half. It has not been breached, no matter what they say."
He said 102 residents, a "certain record", had been evacuated in the past week along the lone road out of the town.
The town is protected by fortifications erected after it was briefly seized by Russian-financed separatists in 2014.
Russian accounts of the fighting rarely mention Avdiivka. On Thursday, the Russian Defence Ministry said its forces had struck Ukrainian units further south in Donetsk region.
Reuters could not verify reports from either side.
FIGHTING IN THE NORTHEAST
Ukrainian officials have noted Russian attempts to advance in Ukraine's northeast near Kupansk, a town seized by Russian forces in the days after the February 2022 invasion but retaken by Ukrainian troops about a year ago.
Military analyst Serhiy Zgurets, interviewed by the Espreso TV news outlet, quoted commanders as saying Russian forces were bearing down on Senkyvka village, with the aim of pushing Ukrainian forces back to the Oskil River.
Overnight temperatures of minus 13 Celsius (9 Fahrenheit), had frozen the ground, easing the advance for Russian vehicles.
Russian forces have focused on the east since failing in their initial attempt to advance on Kyiv. They hold a little less than 20% of Ukrainian territory.
In southern Kherson region, prosecutors said Russian forces had shelled the town of Beryslav, killing a man on a bicycle. In a separate shelling incident targeting several settlements, two men and a woman were killed, they said.
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Russian troops abandoned Kherson and the western bank of the Dnipro River late last year, but now regularly shell those areas from positions on the eastern bank.
Ukrainian forces launched a counteroffensive in June and have made marginal gains in the east and south. Kyiv last week said troops had established a bridgehead on the Dnipro's east bank, but Russian officials dispute this.
Russian forces wipe out Ukrainian ammo depot, signal center at airfield near Khmelnitsky
Russian forces destroyed a Ukrainian ammunition depot and a signal center at an airfield in the Khmelnitsky Region over the past day in the special military operation in Ukraine, Russia’s Defense Ministry reported on Thursday.
"An air-launched ammunition depot and a signal center were destroyed at an airfield in the Khmelnitsky Region," the ministry said in a statement.
Russian forces repulse Ukrainian attack in Kupyansk area over past day
Russian forces repulsed a Ukrainian army attack in the Kupyansk area, destroying roughly 50 enemy troops over the past day, the ministry reported.
"In the Kupyansk direction, units of the western battlegroup conducted active operations with the support of aircraft and artillery fire and repulsed an attack by assault groups of the Ukrainian army’s 14th mechanized brigade near the settlement of Olshana in the Kharkov Region. In addition, they inflicted damage by firepower on units of the Ukrainian army’s 32nd and 57th mechanized brigades near the settlements of Sinkovka and Timkovka in the Kharkov Region," the ministry said.
The Ukrainian army’s losses in the Kupyansk direction over the past 24 hours amounted to 50 personnel, 2 armored combat vehicles and 3 pickup trucks, it said.
"In counter-battery fire, a Polish-made Krab self-propelled artillery gun, a US-manufactured M777 artillery system, a D-20 howitzer and two Gvozdika motorized artillery systems were destroyed," the ministry reported.
Russian forces repel Ukrainian attack in Krasny Liman area over past day
Russian forces repelled a Ukrainian army attack in the Krasny Liman area, eliminating roughly 95 enemy troops over the past day, the ministry reported.
"In the Krasny Liman direction, an attack by assault groups of the Ukrainian National Guard’s 5th brigade was repelled by well-coordinated operations of units from the battlegroup Center, army aircraft strikes and artillery fire near the settlement of Grigorovka in the Donetsk People’s Republic," the ministry said.
The Ukrainian army’s losses in the Krasny Liman direction over the past 24 hours amounted to "as many as 95 personnel, three armored combat vehicles and four motor vehicles," it specified.
In counter-battery fire, Russian forces destroyed a US-made M109 Paladin artillery system, a Polish-manufactured Krab self-propelled artillery gun and a French-made Caesar howitzer, the ministry reported.
Russian forces also inflicted damage by firepower on the Ukrainian army in the area of the Serebryansky forestry, it said.
Russian forces repulse two Ukrainian attacks in Donetsk area over past day
Russian forces repulsed two Ukrainian army attacks in the Donetsk area over the past day, the ministry reported.
"In the Donetsk direction, units of the southern battlegroup in interaction with aircraft and artillery repulsed two attacks by assault groups of the Ukrainian army’s 5th assault brigade near the settlement of Kleshcheyevka in the Donetsk People’s Republic. In addition, they inflicted damage on manpower and equipment of the Ukrainian army’s 22nd, 24th and 93rd mechanized brigades near the settlements of Razdolovka, Kurdyumovka and Vasyukovka in the Donetsk People’s Republic," the ministry said.
The Ukrainian army’s losses in the Donetsk direction over the past 24 hours amounted to 280 personnel killed and wounded, 3 tanks, an infantry fighting vehicle and 4 pickup trucks, it said.
"In counter-battery fire, a Msta-B howitzer, a Giatsint field gun and three D-30 howitzers were destroyed," the ministry reported.
Russian forces strike two Ukrainian army brigades in south Donetsk area over past day
Russian forces inflicted damage on two Ukrainian army brigades in the south Donetsk area, eliminating roughly 140 enemy troops over the past day, the ministry reported.
"In the south Donetsk direction, units of the battlegroup East in interaction with army aircraft and artillery inflicted damage by firepower on the personnel and equipment of the Ukrainian army’s 79th air assault brigade near the settlement of Novomikhailovka in the Donetsk People’s Republic and 102nd territorial defense brigade near the settlement of Priyutnoye in the Zaporozhye Region," the ministry said.
The Ukrainian army’s losses in the south Donetsk direction over the past 24 hours amounted to 140 personnel, 3 armored personnel carriers and 4 motor vehicles, it said.
"In counter-battery fire, the following targets were destroyed: a US-made M777 artillery system and a Gvozdika motorized artillery gun," the ministry reported.