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26 Feb, 2024 17:36

Russian military makes new gains in Donbass

Moscow’s forces have liberated the village of Lastochkino, continuing their advance westward from the key town of Avdeevka
Russian military makes new gains in Donbass

The Russian Defense Ministry has announced the liberation of the village of Lastochkino in Donbass. The settlement is located to the west of Avdeevka, a major former stronghold of the Ukrainian military which was captured by Russian forces earlier this month.

Lastochkino has seen intense combat in recent days, with the Russian military continuing its westward push from Avdeevka. Ukrainian troops have ramped up their effort to stabilize the front line, staging repeated counterattacks in the area, the Russian Defense Ministry noted in a briefing on Monday.

Over the past 24 hours, Russian troops have repelled six counterattacks in multiple locations to the west of Avdeevka. Ukraine has lost up to 410 servicemen, a tank, three infantry fighting vehicles, and other hardware in combat, according to estimates from Moscow.

The loss of Lastochkino has been acknowledged by Kiev, with a spokesperson for the Tavria strategic-operational group stating that Ukrainian forces had “retreated.” The move was necessary to create a stable defensive line between the villages of Orlovka, Tonenkoye and Berdychi, the spokesperson claimed. Ukrainian forces are apparently seeking to base their defenses on a system of canals and ponds, stretching across the three locations.

The town of Avdeevka had been a major stronghold for Kiev’s forces since the early stages of the conflict in then-Ukrainian Donbass, which erupted in the aftermath of the 2014 Maidan coup. It was liberated on February 17 when Russian forces broke through the defensive lines, triggering a chaotic rout of Ukrainian troops from the area. 

Kiev has insisted it was a properly organized withdrawal, ordered by newly appointed top general Aleksandr Syrsky. According to Moscow, the order to retreat was actually issued around one day after Ukrainian troops had begun to flee Avdeevka.

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