Ukraine is losing ground in the war and is looking

Ukraine is losing ground in the war and is looking for a new position around Avdiivka

Ukrainian soldiers are retreating further from positions around the devastated town of Avdiivka after advancing Russian forces broke through a critical supply line and threatened to encircle scores of Ukrainian soldiers, Ukrainian military officials and soldiers said Thursday.

Dmytro Lykhovii, a spokesman for Ukrainian forces fighting in the region, said the Ukrainians had “maneuvered” and “sometimes retreated to more advantageous positions and sometimes repelled enemy advances.”

He also said military commanders had set up a backup logistical route into the city to transport urgently needed supplies to Ukraine's beleaguered troops.

The battle, Mr. Lykhovii said, was dynamic and changed from hour to hour as the two sides engaged in bitter urban fighting. But his comments suggested that the fighting had taken another ominous turn for Kiev's forces, potentially heralding a withdrawal from a city reduced to rubble by months of horrific bombardment.

For several weeks there have been signs that Ukraine's control over Avdiivka is weakening. Ukraine recently withdrew soldiers from the 110th Brigade, who had played a key role in defending the city for two years but were exhausted and severely weakened after months of brutal fighting. Soldiers from the third elite assault brigade were sent to reinforce Ukraine's armed forces, but noted they found themselves in a situation that was already “extremely critical.”

“Avdiivka is hell,” the brigade’s commander, Andrii Biletskyi, said in a statement. The situation in the city was “precarious and unstable,” he said, with the Russians able to rotate their troops and deploy more resources in combat.

“We are forced to fight around the clock against the new brigades that the enemy is creating,” he said.

Avdiivka, located less than ten miles from the Russian-occupied city of Donetsk, has withstood months of relentless Russian attacks aimed at encircling the fortress.

However, when US military aid stopped and commanders were forced to begin rationing ammunition, the Russians managed to capture two bases within the city itself.

While Russian warplanes bombarded Avdiivka with powerful guided bombs, his small attack units stormed through the ruins. Ukrainians use drones to thwart Russian advances. However, the foggy and rainy weather recently has restricted the use of drones on both sides.

With the Ukrainians forced to conserve ammunition, small groups of Russian assault units were able to assemble within the city itself.

The Russian units are now advancing from the south and are threatening to cut off the Ukrainian forces in the southern part of the city and in the north, where they have now crossed an important supply line in several places.

“The resupply and evacuation of Avdiivka has become a challenge, but an alternative logistics route prepared in advance has been activated,” Mr Lykhovii said.

The Russians' ultimate goal, he said, is to encircle the massive Avdiivka coking plant and chemical plant, which could be used by Ukrainian forces to establish a final stand in the city if they are forced to withdraw completely from residential areas.