Zelensky praises troops for defeating major Russian onslaught in east Ukraine
Russian forces have taken heavy losses after a failed attempt to capture the city of Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine.
President Volodymyr Zelensky has praised Ukrainian forces for repelling a major Russian assault on the eastern town of Avdiivka and for holding their ground amidst heavy fighting.
Zelensky travelled to the southern region of Kherson along with a number of top military commanders on Friday, where they discussed the situation there and around Avdiivka and Kupyansk, a town north of Avdiivka where Russian forces have also intensified attacks in recent weeks.
‘Thanks to all our boys, who powerfully hold the defence and destroy the occupier day after day,’ Zelensky said in a video posted on the Telegram messaging app.
‘These days, the Russian losses are really staggering, and it is precisely losses by the occupier that Ukraine needs.’
Zelensky’s office said Russia’s assault on Avdiivka had resulted in ‘record losses’ of personnel and equipment, but gave no further details of the extent of the losses.
The Ukrainian military said fighting was raging along the front line, with about 90 combat clashes in the past 24 hours. That compares with an average of about 60 daily clashes a week ago.
General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, heading Ukraine’s operations in the south, reported heavy attacks from both sides, with his forces conducting 1,500 firing missions in 24 hours. He provided no data for Ukraine’s losses but said Russia lost 1,051 people, 143 pieces of military equipment and one ammunition depot.
‘The new wave (of attacks) is as powerful as the one before on October 10 and 11,’ said Vitaliy Barabash, head of the Avdiivka military administration.
‘It is very difficult. But the boys are holding out and repelled everything,’ he told Ukrainian television.
Avdiivka, home to a big coking plant, has long been under attack, has become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance and is seen as a gateway to the nearby Russian-held city of Donetsk.
Ukrainian forces have been making slow progress through vast Russian minefields in a counteroffensive that began in the east and south in early June, but Russia has hit back hard around Avdiivka and Kupyansk.
Kyiv says the aim of the Russian attacks is to draw in Ukrainian troops from other fronts and to try to gain ground before winter sets in.
The Institute for the Study of War, a U.S. research group, said Ukrainian forces appeared to have broken through on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River in Kherson.
Kyiv has not commented on the report and Zelenskiy, who also visited the southern region of Mykolaiv, gave no details of the situation in Kherson.
Ukraine recaptured parts of the Kherson region late last year after months of Russian occupation. But Russian forces who left Kherson, the region’s biggest city, retreated only as far as the other side of the Dnipro and shelled the city from there.
Kupyansk, in the northeast, was also recaptured by Ukrainian troops late last year.
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