The Russian army declared complete control of Avdeevka a few hours after Ukraine announced its withdrawal from the city to preserve soldiers’ lives.

“Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu reported to the Supreme Commander that Russian forces under the command of General Andrey Mordvichev have completely controlled the city of Avdeevka in the Donetsk People’s Republic,” the Russian Ministry of Defense announced. February 17, mentioning President Vladimir Putin.

Russia “liberated an area of ​​31.75 square kilometers from Ukrainian nationalists. The enemy lost more than 1,500 soldiers within 24 hours,” according to the Russian Ministry of Defense. This agency did not mention Moscow’s losses.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said President Putin “congratulated the Russian army and soldiers on their important victory.”

The information was released a few hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on the same day that the country’s army had to withdraw from Avdeevka to preserve soldiers’ lives, saying this was the result of a lack of ammunition and weapons.

Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Defense, said today that Ukrainian soldiers who have not yet had time to retreat are holed up at the Avdeevka chemical and coke factory, and Russian forces are taking countermeasures.

After the Ukrainian army’s counter-attack campaign failed, Russia late last year mobilized troops to attack Avdeevka, a city in Donetsk province that Ukraine turned into a fortress in 2014 with a system of fortifications and strong bases.

Controlling Avdeevka is considered Russia‘s biggest victory since winning Bakhmut in May 2023. Some Western experts and officials believe that Russia expanding an additional 50-60 km on the front line after controlling Avdeevka could help them open the way to attack other cities, such as Konstantinovka in the north and move closer to Russia. The goal is to control Donetsk province completely.

White House National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said that Ukraine’s failure in Avdeevka was partly due to the US Congress’s delay in approving a new aid package for Kyiv.