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Commander: Some units of 3rd Assault Brigade were 'completely surrounded' in Avdiivka but managed to escape

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk February 19, 2024 3:48 PM 2 min read
The sign marking the entrance of Avdiivka is seen amid artillery shelling on Dec. 31, 2023, in Avdiivka, Donetsk Oblast. (Pierre Crom/Getty Images)
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Some units of Ukraine's Third Assault Brigade were "completely surrounded" in the city of Avdiivka but managed to escape before Russian forces totally captured the city, the unit's deputy commander, Maksym Zhorin, said on Feb. 19.

Lying mere kilometers from occupied Donetsk, Avdiivka has stood against Russian forces since 2014. The city has been under an intensified onslaught since October 2023, culminating in Avdiivka's capture by Russia on Feb. 17.

Commander-in-Chief Oleksandr Syrskyi announced the withdrawal "in order to avoid encirclement and preserve the lives and health of servicemen," but there were reports that the retreat was not carried out as smoothly as possible.

Russia takes Avdiivka at steep price, as Ukraine forced to face shortcomings
The capture of Avdiivka is Russia’s first major achievement in nine months, but it doesn’t leave any side looking good. For Russia, it was a Pyrrhic victory that consumed an army’s worth of equipment and killed or mangled estimated tens of thousands of Russian men to capture

Zhorin said that despite reports from Russian Telegram channels, none of the fighters from the Third Assault Brigade were left in Avdiivka.

The Ukrainian investigative media outlet Slidtsvo.info reported on Feb. 18 that relatives identified the dead bodies of three Ukrainian soldiers allegedly captured as prisoners of war in Avdiivka in a Russian propaganda video.

The relatives said the soldiers were left behind heavily wounded while the rest of the forces retreated from the Zenit strongpoint in the southern part of the city. Ukraine’s 110th Brigade neither confirmed nor denied the claims as the verification continues, according to Slidstvo.info.

ISW: Russia has not demonstrated ability to secure significant gains across large territories
Despite Russia’s capture of Avdiivka, Russian forces have not yet demonstrated an ability to secure significant gains across large swaths of territory, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) assessed in its report on Feb. 18.
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