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15 Feb, 2024 19:27

Ukraine set to lose key Donbass city – White House

With Russia poised to capture Avdeevka, US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby has called on Congress to give Kiev more ammunition
Ukraine set to lose key Donbass city – White House

Russian forces are preparing to capture the Donbass stronghold of Avdeevka after “particularly intense” fighting, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Thursday. 

Situated just ten kilometers north of Donetsk, Avdeevka had been used by the Ukrainian military as a staging ground for attacks on the city since 2014, many of which targeted civilians. They constructed deep bunkers there, with Russian military bloggers comparing the town to a “fortress.”

Fighting around Avdeevka is “particularly intense,” Kirby said at a press conference. “We’re getting reports from the Ukrainians that the situation is critical, the Russians continuing to press Ukrainian positions every single day,” he stated, adding that “Avdeevka is at risk of falling into Russian control.”

It is unclear how many troops Kiev has lost attempting to hold Avdeevka. Kirby linked the impending fall of the town to ammunition shortages, a problem well documented by Western media in recent months. The White House spokesman called on Congress to pass a bill that would give Ukraine a $60 billion infusion of military aid, stating that this would “provide Ukraine with the artillery shells that they desperately need to disrupt these Russian assaults.”

While the US Senate passed the bill earlier this week, it remains a non-starter in the House of Representatives, where the slim Republican majority have demanded that it include a major tightening of US immigration law and “real border security provisions,” according to House Speaker Mike Johnson. 

Ukraine appears determined to hold Avdeevka at all costs, with President Vladimir Zelensky naming Aleksandr Syrsky – a general infamous for tolerating severe losses – as commander-in-chief of his armed forces last week. Syrsky immediately deployed Ukraine’s 3rd Assault Brigade – an elite Western-armed unit made up of the remnants of the neo-Nazi Azov regiment – to Avdeevka, where they relieved the beleaguered and depleted 110th Mechanized Brigade.

While Ukrainian officials have not conceded defeat in Avdeevka, German reporter Julian Roepcke claimed on Thursday that “the Ukrainian army is in the process of pulling out,” while Russian forces are “quickly advancing inside and around the town.” According to Roepcke, the Russian flag is now flying at the entrance to the town, at the same spot where Zelensky took a selfie during a publicity visit in December.