Large numbers of Russian forces are pushing to capture the frontline Ukrainian town of Avdiivka, its Ukrainian mayor said on Thursday, escalating a months-long effort to capture the industrial hub.
Moscow launched a costly bid in October to seize the town, which has been caught up in fighting since 2014 when it briefly fell to Moscow-backed separatists.
“Unfortunately, the enemy is pressing from all directions. There is not a single part of our city that is more or less calm,” Mayor Vitaly Barabash told state media.
“They are storming with very large forces,” he added.
The capture of Avdiivka would provide a much-needed victory for Russia to bring home in the run-up to the second anniversary of its fully-fledged invasion of Ukraine and its March presidential election.
Avdiivka is located in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region, which the Kremlin claims is part of Russia, along with four other Ukrainian territories that Moscow says it has annexed.
Barabash characterized the fighting as “very hot” and “very difficult.”
“The situation in some directions is simply unreal,” he said.
Fewer than 950 people remain in the frontline town, of an estimated pre-war population of around 33,000 people, he said.