Russian soldiers attacked multiple times to the west of Avdiivka, which was recently taken over, in an attempt to gain more ground, said a spokesperson for the Ukrainian army on Sunday.

Due to shortages in manpower and ammunition, Ukraine had to retreat from the industrial center in eastern Donetsk region, giving Moscow its first significant territorial gain since May 2023.

"The enemy is actively pushing forward their attack," said Dmytro Lykhoviy, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian army commander, speaking on state TV on Sunday.

The Ukrainian general staff reported 14 failed Russian attacks on the village of Lastochkyne, about two kilometers to the west of Avdiivka. However, Lykhoviy mentioned that Ukrainian forces are strongly positioned there.


There were also unsuccessful Russian attacks near the villages of Robotyne and Verbove in the southern Zaporizhzhia region.

He said it would be "very difficult" for Russia to break through there, given heavy Ukrainian defensive lines and natural conditions of the terrain.

"The situation in the Zaporizhzhia sector is stable... No positions have been lost," he said Sunday on state TV.

"The enemy was kicked in the teeth and retreated," he added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin celebrated the capture of Avdiivka as a significant victory for his troops, just before the second anniversary of the invasion.

Ukrainian troops withdrew from the frontline city of Avdiivka on Friday, Feb.16, to avoid being encircled, new military chief Oleksandr Syrsky said Saturday, handing Russia its biggest symbolic victory following Kyiv's failed summer counteroffensive.

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"Based on the operational situation that has developed around Avdiivka, in order to avoid encirclement and preserve the life and health of military personnel, I decided to withdraw our units from the city and switch to defense on more advantageous lines," wrote Syrsky.

Russia has been trying to capture Avdiivka for months. It is the most significant territorial gain for Russian forces since they seized the eastern city of Bakhmut last May and comes ahead of the second anniversary of the start of the invasion.


"Our soldiers performed their military duty with dignity, did everything possible to destroy the best Russian military units and inflicted significant losses on the enemy."

"The life of military personnel is the highest value. We will return Avdiivka anyway," added Syrsky.

It is Syrsky's first major decision since his appointment on Feb. 8, and he said it was taken to preserve the lives of soldiers and prevent their encirclement.

Zelensky echoed Syrsky's sentiments and explained that the decision to withdraw was made to 'minimize casualties'  among Ukrainian troops.

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.

Both Russian and Ukrainian media reported that Ukrainian troops had evacuated the formidable fortification network first built in 2014 following the Kremlin’s first invasion of Ukraine and improved since then.

Ukrainian troops were forced to fight their way out of a near-total encirclement in a bid to reach friendly lines and had to abandon wounded who suffered casualties as they retreated, reports from both sides said.


The battle for the industrial hub, less than 10 kilometers (six miles) north of the Russian-controlled city of Donetsk, has been one of the bloodiest of the two-year war.

Many compare it to the battle for Bakhmut, in which tens of thousands of soldiers were killed.

Ukraine faces mounting pressure on the eastern front because of ammunition shortages, with a $60 billion US military aid package held up in Washington since last year by congressional wrangling.

Russia's capture of Avdiivka has raised concerns that its forces might attempt to advance further into the Donetsk region, which Russia claims to have annexed.

In the village of Novooleksandrivka, about 30 kilometers west, residents reported constant shelling by advancing Russian forces. Despite the attacks, some residents are choosing to stay for now.

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