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Commander: Ukraine withdraws from strongpoint on Avdiivka's outskirts

by Martin Fornusek and The Kyiv Independent news desk February 16, 2024 3:33 PM 2 min read
Ukrainian soldiers on an armored infantry vehicle on the road to Avdiivka, Feb. 14, 2024. (Photo by Vlada Liberova/Libkos/Getty Images)
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Ukrainian forces withdrew from the Zenit strongpoint southeast of Avdiivka, General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi announced on Feb. 16, as the situation in the front-line city grows increasingly difficult.

Originally built as an air defense complex in the Soviet times, Zenit has been used as an important defensive position by Ukrainian troops since the start of Russian aggression in 2014. It helped the defenders prevent any advances toward Avdiivka directly from the south.

Avdiivka has faced intensified Russian attacks since October 2023 as Moscow's troops aim to encircle and capture the city.

Tarnavskyi, who commands the Tavria group of forces, said the decision on withdrawal was made "in order to preserve personnel and improve the operational situation."

"The occupation of these positions does not give the enemy a strategic advantage and does not change the situation of Avdiivka's defense operations," Tarnavskyi said.

"We held this position as long as it allowed us to effectively restrain and destroy the enemy," the general said, adding that the decision was made after months of fighting.

Earlier on Feb. 16, Tarnavskyi said the "situation in Avdiivka is difficult, but controlled. Fierce fighting is taking place within the city."

The commander also said that units in the most heavily attacked areas were being reinforced with additional troops. Ukraine's Third Assault Brigade confirmed on Feb. 15 that it was "urgently" redeployed to Avdiivka as the situation grows "extremely critical."

"Troop management is stable and effective," Tarnavskyi reported. He also said that additional resources, including ammunition, had been allocated to units in the region.

Avdiivka lies only a few kilometers away from Russian-occupied Donetsk. Heavy fighting has left the city largely in ruins.

Fate of Avdiivka uncertain as Ukrainian forces defending it struggle with fortifications, resources
Editor’s note: The full names of the soldiers introduced in the story are not disclosed due to security concerns amid the ongoing war in Ukraine. DONETSK OBLAST – As artillery began pounding the cold-hardened ground ahead of them, two Ukrainian soldiers listened warily to shell impacts creep closer…
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