icon bookmark-bicon bookmarkicon cameraicon checkicon chevron downicon chevron lefticon chevron righticon chevron upicon closeicon v-compressicon downloadicon editicon v-expandicon fbicon fileicon filtericon flag ruicon full chevron downicon full chevron lefticon full chevron righticon full chevron upicon gpicon insicon mailicon moveicon-musicicon mutedicon nomutedicon okicon v-pauseicon v-playicon searchicon shareicon sign inicon sign upicon stepbackicon stepforicon swipe downicon tagicon tagsicon tgicon trashicon twicon vkicon yticon wticon fm
28 Feb, 2024 15:15

White House acknowledges ‘significance’ of Avdeevka

The assessment contradicts earlier claims by Western officials that the loss of the Donbass town was not crucial for Ukraine
White House acknowledges ‘significance’ of Avdeevka

The White House has sounded the alarm over the Russian military’s continued advance against Ukrainian forces in Donbass, describing the town of Avdeevka, recently liberated by Moscow’s forces, as “critical” and blaming its fall on “congressional inaction.”

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and National Security Council spokesman John Kirby issued the warning at a press conference on Tuesday, as the administration of President Joe Biden continues to try to push a long-stalled aid package for Ukraine through the House of Representatives. The package, including $60 billion for Kiev, has met strong opposition from Republicans who want to tie overseas funding to reinforcement of the US-Mexico border. 

“Ukraine has lost ground on the battlefield in recent weeks and is being forced to ration ammunition and supplies due to congressional inaction,” Jean-Pierre asserted, describing Avdeevka as “one of the critical cities.”

Kirby described the battlefield situation as “very dire” for Ukraine, expressing concern over the continuing advance of Moscow’s forces in Russia’s Donbass.

“The Russians started taking some other towns and villages. Now, they didn’t – nothing to the significance of Avdeevka, in terms of the logistics hub that they want to create there. But they’re on the move,” he stressed, warning that Kiev could ultimately lose the conflict should the US fail to allocate more military aid.

“I’m not in a position to put a time stamp on it and say, you know, by such and such date they’ll lose the war. But they are certainly beginning to lose territory – territory that they had clawed back from the Russians, and now they have to give it back to the Russians because they can’t fight them off,” Kirby stated.

The assessment comes in stark contrast to previous statements by senior Western officials after Russian forces liberated Avdeevka earlier this month. Admiral Rob Bauer, who chairs the NATO Military Committee, had claimed the town was of no strategic significance and that its loss did not affect Ukraine in a meaningful way. 

“Militarily, it’s not a big loss,” Bauer told Foreign Policy. “[The Russians] destroyed the whole infrastructure. So you don’t have a city. You have another couple of hundred meters,” he argued.

Avdeevka, located immediately to the north of the city of Donetsk, was liberated by Russian forces earlier in February. The town had served as a major Ukrainian stronghold and a key staging area for indiscriminate artillery and missile attacks on Donetsk since the early stages of the conflict in Donbass, which erupted in the aftermath of the 2014 Maidan coup.