Russian forces secure symbolic victory in Ukraine’s Avdiivka

Avdiivka, located in the Donetsk region, had been a focal point of clashes between pro-Russian separatists and the Ukrainian army since 2014.

| Updated: 19 February, 2024 5:52 pm IST

NEW DELHI: Russian forces have achieved a symbolic victory in the Ukrainian city of Avdiivka, marking a significant development in the ongoing conflict between the two nations.Moscow’s army successfully conquered the city on February 16, leading to the withdrawal of the remaining Ukrainian troops, as confirmed by Kyiv.

Avdiivka, located in the Donetsk region, had been a focal point of clashes between pro-Russian separatists and the Ukrainian army since 2014. Despite its proximity to Donetsk, a stronghold of separatists, the city had remained under Ukrainian control, becoming a frontline for a decade. The recent Russian assault, launched on October 10, 2023, saw Moscow capturing Avdiivka after four months, reportedly at the cost of heavy losses.

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While the strategic importance of Avdiivka may be debated, its capture holds symbolic weight for Russia. Apart from being a gateway to Donetsk, the city’s significance lies in its history of changing hands twice in 2014 during initial clashes. However, analysts suggest that in the broader Ukrainian battlefield, Avdiivka does not hold the crucial importance seen in cities like Bakhmut, conquered in May 2023.

The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington think tank, views the potential capture of Avdiivka as more of a symbolic win for the Kremlin. It argues that the strategic front line, stretching over 1,500 kilometres, has seen minimal changes in recent months, making the impact of capturing Avdiivka operationally insignificant. The institute suggests that any potential gains for Russia would be limited to immediate informational and political victories.

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In response to the developments, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, speaking at the Munich Security Conference, emphasised the challenges faced by Ukraine, including low ammunition supplies and a shortage of personnel. While highlighting Ukraine’s ability to force Russia to retreat, Zelenskyy stressed the need to address the artificial deficit of weapons, particularly in artillery and long-range capabilities.

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