Russia claims complete control over Avdeevka
Ukrainian soldiers moved near a car attacked by a Russian suicide UAV on November 8. Photo: Reuters

Ukrainian officials say that Russia is launching an unprecedented and intense attack on Avdeevka, an important stronghold controlled by Kyiv in Donetsk province.

“Russian forces are launching the most intense attacks on the city. Every day, the enemy conducts an average of 16-18 air strikes, some days up to 30. We do not have time to fully count,” Vitaliy Barabash, leader of the Avdeevka city military agency appointed by Ukraine, said on November 23.

Mr. Barabash admitted that the situation here is very difficult but emphasized that Ukrainian soldiers are still holding on to the battlefield and that the defense line around the city has not been penetrated.

Images published by war correspondents show the Russian army attacking targets at Avdeevka with many types of firepower, including rocket artillery and guided cluster bombs.

Ukrainian commanders on the northeastern front said on the same day that Russia was maintaining efforts to reach the city of Kupyansk in Kharkov province, including attacking the village of Senkyvka to push Ukrainian forces back toward the Oskil River, the border naturally in this area.

Night temperatures dropped to -13°C, causing the ground to freeze and making it easier for Russian motor vehicles to move.

The Russian Ministry of Defense has not commented on the information.

Russia is currently creating a pincer position surrounding Avdeevka on three sides: north, south and east, causing the Ukrainian army only to be able to maintain supplies and reinforce the city from the west. This situation makes Avdeevka be likened to the “second Bakhmut”, the city that Kyiv lost to Moscow in May after a fighting that lasted more than 10 months and left thousands of soldiers on both sides dead.

Winning Avdeevka will help the Russian army expand another 50-60 km on the front line, creating a gateway from the capital, Donetsk, to other cities, such as Kostiantynivka in the north, moving closer to the goal of complete control of Donetsk province.

Ukraine sees Avdeevka as the gateway for any future offensive campaigns eastward, as it is only about 20 km from the Russian-controlled city of Donetsk. Meanwhile, some Ukrainian analysts believe that the battle of Avdeevka is only of political significance and does not bring many benefits to Moscow.

Kupyansk is a strategic location for transportation, connecting the rail and road networks in northeastern Ukraine. Russian forces withdrew from here after a quick counterattack by the Ukrainian army in September 2022.

Russia has also stepped up its offensive on the Kupyansk front in recent months. Western experts say this activity is part of Russia’s proactive defense strategy to hold back Ukrainian units in the area and prevent them from supporting other counterattacks.