Ukraine on Friday said it was pulling back from a position on the southern outskirts of the city of Avdiivka, where heavy battles were raging with Russian forces. 

"After many months of confrontation, the command decided to withdraw from the Zenit position on the southeastern outskirts of Avdiivka... The decision was made to save personnel and improve the operational situation," Oleksandr Tarnavsky, a Ukrainian general in the east, said on social media.

Russian troops captured a key fortress in the battleground city Avdiivka on Thursday, forcing Ukrainian troops to fall back hundreds of meters through a gauntlet of artillery and mortar fire.

Infantrymen reportedly from 1st Army Corps had by early evening cleared the Cheburashka Zenit defense complex of all resistance, ending weeks of bloody assaults against a Ukrainian bastion of trenches and fortifications on the south-western outskirts of the city.

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Both Russian and Ukrainian media reported Ukrainian troops had evacuated the formidable fortification network first built in 2014 Kyiv following the Kremlin’s first invasion of Ukraine and improved since then. Ukrainian troops forced to fight their way out of a near-total encirclement in a bid to reach friendly lines had to abandon wounded and suffered casualties as they retreated, reports from both sides said.

The Armed Forces of Ukraine’s (AFU) loss of the Cheburashka-Zenit citadel marked the greatest single day gain of ground by Kremlin forces in the Adviivka sector since October, when Moscow launched a major offensive to capture the city and eliminate a long-standing Ukrainian salient projecting some ten kilometers into Russian lines.

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With the US dithering, the implications need to be recognized and decisive action taken to avoid disaster in the shape of a Russian victory in Ukraine.

Russian state television led Thursday evening news with triumphant reports of the victory and images of infantrymen standing inside the Zenit complex holding the Russian flag and a banner from 1st Army Corps. Ukrainian forces had fallen back two kilometers and some units had broken as they ran in panic, the Kremlin reports claimed.

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Most Ukrainian sources reported troops retreated under pressure but that unit discipline held as soldiers fell back, generally in good order, to prepared positions. Some Ukrainian sources said soldiers manning the Zenit positions made an escape to friendly lines across open farm fields pelted with Russian shells, mortars and  and machine gun fire.

Viktor Bilyak, a member of 2nd Company, 1st Battalion, 110th Mechanized Infantry Brigade, the unit based at Zenit, in an Instagram post said higher command denied medical evacuation to wounded and six men of his 15-20 men section were abandoned to the Russians.

There were no early reports of overall Ukrainian losses in the retreat. During the 2014-2021 period, the AFU normally deployed 200-300 men to hold the Cheburashka-Zenit fortification complex.

“We value every piece of Ukrainian land but the highest value and priority for us is the protection of the life of the Ukrainian soldier. The Adviivka defensive operation is continuing. Our soldiers are continuing to destroy the army of the enemy and are cutting to pieces the resources and reserves of the enemy which he, not counting the losses, is throwing into the battle,” General Oleksandr Taranavsky, commander of Ukraine’s Joint Forces East, said in a 23:00 Thursday official statement.

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On Friday house-to-house fighting reportedly was in progress along the north-eastern front of the Avdiivka salient, with the most intense combat in the city’s industrial district. Russian air strikes and ground assaults against the Avdiivka Coke and Chemical Plant and its connecting rail line, the center of Ukrainian resistance in that sector, were reported as well. 

A Friday statement from Ukraine’s 3rd Assault Brigade, a reserve unit transferred to Adviivka on Monday and Tuesday by Kyiv in an attempt to shore up defenses, said that the Russian air force was dropping 60 bombs a day at targets around the city, in an effort to flatten Ukrainian positions.

The brigade was facing seven to one odds and taking losses, but on Thursday two Russian armored columns of 6-8 combat vehicles each attempted to push into positions newly-occupied by the 3rd and were repelled with heavy losses, unit official statements and individual soldiers said. 

Mykola “Abdula” Volokhov, commander of a 3rd Assault strike drone unit, in a Thursday evening interview told Ukrainska Pravda magazine brigade aviators set a one-day wartime record for destroyed Russian vehicles and personnel.

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Oleksander Borodin, a 3rd Brigade spokesman, said Ukrainian troops in Adviivka were facing “a very difficult situation” against elements of two main force Russian armies, and that most attacking troops were regular Russian army paratrooper infantry or special forces. Social media video purportedly uploaded by 3rd Assault soldiers showed infantrymen in unprepared defenses near a railroad line.

The usually-reliable Ukrainian military information platform DeepState said Russian infantry backed with anti-aircraft cannon firing in support had captured the city bus station, the city water works and were approaching Avdiivka’s central 9th district, a section of the city built up with Soviet-era high rise apartment buildings dominating surrounding terrain. Fighting currently was house-to-house in adjacent individual family home suburbs, the report said.

Russian artillery was dominant and with Ukrainian guns firing back only rarely, and Russian air strikes were unceasing, practically all accounts said. A social media post purportedly from a 25th Airborne Brigade trooper in the Avdiivka sector said:

”They are raining down endlessly 24/7, there are no longer any trenches or dugouts from them. I am not calling anyone a traitor, but we we ask at least for some minimal anti-aircraft defenses. The (Russian) bombers are operating freely, we can fight everything they throw at us except this. We will stand as long as necessary…We have enough of everything, shortages of food, armored cars or something else is long in the past. (That we have). We need something of a different order of magnitude: Make it so that the enemy's aircraft does not fly."

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Ukrainian forces face a yawning artillery shell shortage stemming from US Congressional unwillingness to advance further military aid to Kyiv, and slow implementation of EU nations to upscale shell production in Europe. Most Russian air strikes are with glider bombs dropped from well outside of AFU air defense weapons.

A Russian break-through to the north of Adviivka via the industrial district could, potentially, cut off and surround elements of at least three Ukrainian combat brigades, potentially 2,000-4,000 men, reportedly deployed to the sector.

Evhen Dikiy, a Ukrainian volunteer infantry commander deployed to sector adjacent to Avdiivka, said that the AFU high command has only limited time to contain the Russian assault.

“That’s why 3rd Assault got thrown in there. It’s an attack unit. The brigade is trained to gain ground, and specifically to gain ground in urban fighting. I think they have the mission to open up the supply line to Adviivka. They have the mission to throw the orcs away from the highway. If in the next two or three days they succeed in pushing the orcs away from the highway, then that’s one thing,” Dikiy said, during an interview on a national news program. “Then it will be possible to reinforce defenses, and to keep on fighting. But if in the next two or three days they aren’t successful, then I think they are going to get the mission to organize a corridor for the deliberate evacuation of the city.”

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Comments (9)

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Sasha
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it's time to leave the rubble to the russian idiots, there's no point in getting killed in these conditions! the time for revenge is not today!

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Mikel Emile
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This Is A Sin

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Jeminie Cricket
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My party Republican are in my mind now are the very cause of Ukrainian soldiers. I am ASHAMED of them ALL! Don't count on my vote next election!

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John Ciccone
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I am an American and a Republican. I am absolutely infuriated buy the isolationist stance of the party. I see blood on their hands. I have decided to change my affiliation to Independent and refuse to donate $. Ukraine MUST win this war for Europe's security and America's.
Ukraine must be free and aligned with Europe.

What this war represents is a struggle for the ideals of western civilization... the rule of law, the dignity and worth of the individual and Democracy.
American military support amounts to 3% to 5% of our military budget, much of which is spent in buying arms from American companies. The Ukranian people invest their blood.
Slava Ukraine 🇺🇦

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Cú Chualainn.
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It's always enjoyable watching something crash and burn.

The Ukraine overthrew a government in 2014 at the behest of the USA and NATO.

Proceeded then in terrorising the Russian speaking Ukrainians in the Donbas region for 8 years.

Killing 14,000 of them.

They continued to shell the Donbas region and in Feb 2022 upped the ante until Russia had to step in to protect the Russian speaking citizens in the Donbas region.

The USA and UK goaded the Ukraine into war with Russia.

Never a good idea. Ask Germany.

The country is now Europe's tramp, scrounging around for money to keep the butchery going.


You people are disgusting.

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David
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Ukraine armed forces have performed admirably in Avdiivka, but if withdrawal now is the better option, do it while you can without leaving anyone behind, especially the wounded. The life and freedom of Ukrainian soldiers is worth more than holding onto the pile of ruble that used to be a city.

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GM
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Too bad so sad...Maybe they shouldn't have violently overthrown the elected government and bombed Russian speaking Ukrainians for the past decade.

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John
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The most disturbing thing about this, is it reflects a failure in allies providing Ukraine sufficient aid. Some leaders said they would be there for Ukraine for as long as it takes. Now they cannot get past dictator admirers in their own governments. A handful of enemy aligned subversives ties the hands of the world's largest democracy. All at a critical time when if Ukraine support is botched, allies essentially open the gateway to a potential new world war with the other autocratic nations; waiting...waiting...waiting to strike.

Why are we still not moving our economies onto a war footing? Will future generations look back at our leaders to illustrate yet another epic "hiding their heads in the sand" leadership failure. All in the midst of the most substantial attack against democracy and international law in decades.

Ironically the deniers of aid, falsely claim their priority concern is for improving 'national security'. As though a wall stopping unarmed refugees, somehow will stop now likely threat of a future conquest by despots that have ramped up war manufacturing. A isolationist nation may find itself very isolated indeed, when its abandoned past allies have all fallen.

The money requested for Ukraine support mostly stays in our own nations to improve weapons manufacturing capacity. This is critical to thwart current and future foreign threats.

Help your future selves.....help Ukraine now!!!

Annie Williamson
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@John, Umm, NO! They have had enough and cannot win with enormous resources because the nation is clearly led by an incompetent ex-actor who looks great in PR shots but is utterly clueless. No a single penny more should go to the Ukraine

Sasha
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@Annie Williamson, It's true, the whole nato must enter ukraine, not the money. so the problem is solved quickly

Cú Chualainn.
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@Sasha, @Sasha, NATO and the USA, along with the UK are the reason the Ukraine finds themselves in this situation.

One must always reap what one has sown.

No more money for the Ukraine, and the war dodgers slumming it in Western Europe should be sent back to fight, instead of mooching off the rest of the world.

Go away and fight your own wars, the rest of us are not interested.

Do not start something that you cannot finish.

Sasha
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@Cú Chualainn., it's not true, the war would have happened anyway if Ukraine hadn't decided to become a slave like Belarus

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Sasha
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Why does the russian flag that flies say "we are idiots"?

APT
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@Sasha,

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APT
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@Sasha, Because the Ukrainian Flag says "we are all dead and meat puppets of the West"
Let that sink in.
You allow your men and women to die so the west can try to eek out some pyric victory over Russia.
You Ukies must be some room temperature IQ mouth breathers.

Edmilson Almendra
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@APT, you ruzzians will all die too, and killed by your own deranged dictator. This is very far from over.

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Sasha
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@APT, what you write doesn't change the fact that the russians who are there are idiots, well paid, but idiots

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