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Ukrainian forces withdraw from Avdiivka, Commander-in-Chief Syrskyi reports

Early on February 17, Oleksandr Syrskyi, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, published a statement announcing his decision to withdraw Ukrainian defenders from the city. Avdiivka, situated just a few kilometers from the temporarily occupied Donetsk, has been under intense attack from Russian forces since October 2023.

Based on the operational situation around Avdiivka, in order to avoid encirclement and preserve the lives and health of servicemen, I decided to withdraw our units from the city and move to defense on more favorable lines,” the statement says.

Photo: Kostiantyn Liberov & Vlada Liberova / Instagram

The Commander-in-Chief also added that Ukrainian defenders did everything possible to destroy the best Russian military units and inflicted significant losses on the enemy in terms of manpower and equipment. Now, the Ukrainian forces are taking measures to stabilize the situation and maintain our positions.

“The life of military personnel is the highest value. We will still return Avdiivka,” Syrskyi wrote.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, at the Munich Security Conference, stated the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops “doesn’t imply territorial retreat; rather, it acknowledges Russia’s relentless attacks on the area, resulting in thousands of Russian casualties.”

Russia had been throwing all the reserves at the assault on Avdiivka, trying to encircle and capture the city, reported Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, commander of the Tavria Operational and Strategic Group of Troops, on February 16. Just in a day, Ukrainian defenders repelled more than 30 Russian attacks. The aggressor carried out 20 air strikes and over a hundred and fifty artillery attacks.

Tarnavskyi also noted that the offensive on Avdiivka has been extremely costly to Russia: since January 1, 2024, the aggressor state lost over 20,000 troops, 199 tanks, and 481 armored vehicles on this axis.