Intense clashes are underway in the battle for Avdiivka in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region, as Moscow pushes what has been described by an official as its largest offensive on the frontline eastern town.
The latest maps released by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) think tank show the territory won and lost by both sides as Russia pushes to capture the town, which is of strategic and symbolic importance to Ukraine. A political strategist has said Russian troops are getting “pulverized” in the region.
Avdiivka, which had a pre-war population of at least 30,000, is located about 90 kilometers (56 miles) south of Bakhmut and just north of Russian-occupied Donetsk. It has been the target of Russian aggression since 2014, when President Vladimir Putin illegally annexed the southern Crimean peninsula from Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk started clashing with Kyiv’s forces.
The ISW said Russian forces likely launched a significant and ongoing offensive effort around Avdiivka, Donetsk Oblast on October 10.
“The battles around the city do not abate; the shelling does not abate both on the positions and on the city itself,” the head of the local military administration in Avdiivka, Vitaliy Barabash, said on national television, adding that “two dozen missiles” struck the region on Wednesday.
“There are dead, wounded, people under the rubble,” Barabash said.
Radu Hossu, a political strategist who posts about the war in Ukraine on X, formerly known as Twitter, said in a summary of the offensive in Avdiivka that hundreds of Russian infantrymen are being “pulverized” by Ukrainian artillery.
“It is absolutely incredible and almost unimaginable how the Russians put zero value on their troops, attacking totally disorganized and senselessly in an attempt to encircle the fortress town on the edge of Donetsk,” wrote Hossu.
As of Thursday, Moscow’s forces had not secured any major breakthroughs near Avdiivka and are unlikely to immediately cut off Ukrainian forces in the city, the ISW assessed.
The think tank said Russian forces have likely captured some 4.52 square kilometers of territory from different directions around Avdiivka since October 10 and that Russian forces are just over 3 kilometers away from a Ukrainian ground line of communication and just over 5 kilometers from the north of Avdiivka.
“Russian claims of advances beyond these distances are likely overstated,” the ISW said.
Barabash said Moscow’s push in Avdiivka beginning October 10 is “perhaps the largest Russian offensive on the city” since Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Moscow’s forces are “trying to storm in many directions—10-12 directions at the same time, and this with the support of aviation,” the head of the military administration said.
The Ukrainian General Staff reported on Wednesday that a grouping of up to three Russian battalions with tank and armored vehicle support intensified offensive operations near Avdiivka.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on social media Thursday that Kyiv is holding its ground in the town.
“It is Ukrainian courage and unity that will determine how this war will end,” Zelensky said.
Newsweek has contacted Russia’s Foreign Ministry via email for comment.
Do you have a tip on a world news story that Newsweek should be covering? Do you have a question about the Russia-Ukraine war? Let us know via firstname.lastname@example.org.