Russian forces on Tuesday had launched a substantial local counterattack attempting to encircle the eastern front line at the Ukrainian town of Avdiivka, an official said.
Multiple sources confirmed that Russian tanks and armored personnel carriers were advancing on Ukrainian lines, supported by air strikes which began around 5 a.m.
Kyiv’s forces have been defending extensive defensive positions in Avdiivka since 2015 following Russia’s first invasion of Ukraine.
The town lies just north of the Russian-controlled city of Donetsk, which was captured by Moscow-backed separatist forces in 2014.
“For over a year, there has been the danger that [Avdiivka] can be occupied, but now the situation has worsened rapidly,” Vitaliy Barabash, head of the town’s administration, told the AFP news organization.
Russian troops launched an artillery barrage in the morning and were firing incessantly, Barabash said. Local police officer, Pavlo Diachenko, said Avdiivka currently is home to 2,000 people. The town was undergoing a “severe artillery attack,” he said.
Unconfirmed social media posts from within Avdiivka said that by late afternoon on Tuesday, Russian forces had launched five separate assaults on Ukrainian lines backed by artillery and air strikes, all of which failed to gain ground. The central focus of the assaults was reportedly the village Berdychi.
Unconfirmed video posted on a Russian military platform appeared to show Russian Mi-28 helicopter gunships flying over the city and firing rockets.
A Ukrainian military platform published an unverified video by the pro-Kyiv activist Anton Gerashchenko which purportedly showed a Russian tank leading an armored column in the Avdiivka area, accidentally falling off an assault bridge.
On Avdiivka, where Russians attempted an assault today. Butusov says a Russian column of 9 vehicles left Donetsk in an attempt to cut off Avdeevka. However, something happened to the first vehicle in the column 🙃https://t.co/69SnOcuZoZ pic.twitter.com/rTyqw3U56j— WarTranslated (Dmitri) (@wartranslated) October 10, 2023
Kyiv launched its bid to wrest back territory controlled by Moscow in June, after stockpiling Western-supplied weapons and preparing assault battalions. That assault has gained ground at a slow pace, and at the price of losses of troops and Western equipment.
Ukrainian officials have said their strategy is to reduce Russian army combat effectiveness by attrition, rather than attempting to make major territorial gains.
Some sectors of the front line have seen Russian forces counter attacking, including in parts of the northeast region of Kharkiv where Moscow’s forces claimed to have gained ground.
The central sector between the Russia-occupied cities of Luhansk and Donetsk has seen relatively little changes in the contact lines since the summer of 2022, when Russia’s last major ground offensive ran out of steam following the capture of the cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk.
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