Ukraine Says Russian Attacks Easing Around Avdiivka

Ukraine said Thursday that Russian assaults on the nearly encircled eastern town of Avdiivka had eased after a push by Moscow’s forces to capture the industrial hub.

Avdiivka, which has been at the center of fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces since 2014, came under a renewed Russian effort last month to besiege the war-battered town.

“The number of assaults there has slightly decreased,” Ukrainian military spokesman Oleksandr Shtupun said.

“The enemy continues to try to surround Avdiivka, but not so actively at the moment,” he added.

The town, which once had a population of some 30,000, lies in the eastern Donetsk region that the Kremlin claimed to have annexed last year despite not fully controlling it.

Shtupun said Russian forces could be regrouping to launch another concerted wave of attacks but claimed Ukrainian forces were largely in control.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said this week that Moscow’s forces were making gains near Avdiivka and said Ukrainian efforts to reclaim territory were “desperate” and resulting in losses.

Ukraine has launched a large-scale counteroffensive to reclaim captured territory but has had limited successes against heavily fortified Russian defensive lines.

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