A local official in the linchpin city of Avdiivka sounded the alarm on Tuesday that, as invading forces grow closer to the Ukrainian-held industrial hub in Donetsk, “the situation is very difficult, and in some places, critical.”

For nearly four months, Moscow has focused massive resources on taking Avdiivka, losing more than 13,000 troops there in the process. Since the new year, the red-shaded portion of maps that designate Russian-controlled territory looks something like a claw emerging from the southeast, gradually encircling its grasp on the city, except, at least for now, a broad supply corridor and lifeline along on northwestern radius.

There have been estimates that Moscow lost roughly 3,000 soldiers for every square mile captured near the city.

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“While for several weeks we were saying the situation was very difficult but under control, now the situation is very difficult and in some places critical,” said Vitaliy Barabash, head of the Avdiivka’s military administration.

“This does not mean that all is lost, that everything is very bad. But the enemy is directing a very large amount of forces at our city,” Barbaresh said in a TV interview, as quoted by AFP.

Earlier this month there were reports of a group of Russian soldiers who breached the city’s southern limits, and who quickly were pushed back by Ukrainian forces. Russian President Vladimir Putin soon thereafter magnified Moscow’s successes, in the lead-up to Russian presidential elections, claiming last week that his troops held the city’s outskirts, in a not-too-greatly exaggerated assessment of the campaign’s progress.

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“There are no street fights in the city, per se,” Barabash said. “Certainly, there are solitary sabotage and reconnaissance groups which are trying to break into the city, to walk through the streets.”

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