Ukrainian troops pull back again amid Russia’s onslaught in east of country

26 February 2024, 15:14

Damaged buildings seen after Russian forces completed their takeover of Avdiivka
Russia Ukraine. Picture: PA

Abandoning the village illustrates the battlefield challenges Ukraine is currently facing.

Ukrainian troops have pulled out of a village in the east of the country, an army spokesman said on Monday, as Russian forces make their advantages in manpower and ammunition tell on the battlefield at the start of the war’s third year.

The latest setback for Kyiv’s soldiers was in the village of Lastochkyne, where they fell back to nearby villages in an attempt to hold the line there, said Dmytro Lykhovii, a spokesman for one of the Ukrainian troop groupings.

Lastochkyne lies to the west of Avdiivka, a suburb of the city of Donetsk that the Kremlin’s forces captured on February 18 after a four-month battle.

The outnumbered defenders were overwhelmed by Moscow’s military might, and Ukraine chose to pull out its troops and mount a defence elsewhere.

Firefighters put out a blaze at a railway station in the Donetsk region
Firefighters put out a blaze at a railway station in the Donetsk region (Alex Babenko/AP)

Russia’s Ministry of Defence said its troops had “liberated” Lastochkyne.

Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti quoted local commander Andrei Mordvichev as saying troops had pushed Ukrainian forces back by six miles and were continuing with their offensive. The agency said a key Ukrainian supply route ran through Lastochkyne.

It was not possible to independently verify each side’s claims.

Though not in itself a major loss, abandoning the village illustrates the battlefield challenges Ukraine is currently facing. The new phase of the war has brought some bleak developments for Ukraine.

Despite suffering high losses of troops and equipment, Ukraine says, Moscow’s troops are driving on, smashing towns and cities with their superior firepower.

Western analysts say the Russians are attacking in strength along four parallel lines in the northeast, aiming to press deeper into the Ukraine-held western part of the Donetsk region and also penetrating into the Kharkiv region north of it.

Ukrainian defence minister Rustan Umerov has complained that half of the promised western military support to Ukraine fails to arrive on time. That, he said, makes it hard to undertake proper military planning and ultimately costs the lives of soldiers.

World leaders with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky
World leaders joined Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

Western leaders have sworn to stand by Ukraine as long as they need to defeat Russia’s full-scale invasion of February 24 2022, and Bulgarian Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov arrived in Kyiv on Monday to show his support.

More than 20 European heads of state and government and other western officials were due to meet in Paris on Monday to discuss the war at what French President Emmanuel Macron called a “critical” juncture. He says Kyiv needs more military resources and probably will require them over an extended period of time.

US President Joe Biden was also seeking to remove political roadblocks on providing more aid to Ukraine, convening the top four congressional leaders at the White House on Tuesday.

In other developments, Moscow-installed officials in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region claimed that Russian troops had destroyed a US-made Abrams tank for the first time since they were deployed in Ukraine last autumn, RIA Novosti reported.

Russia launched seven missiles of various types and 14 Shahed drones over Ukraine early Monday morning. Ukraine’s Air Force said it intercepted nine drones and three missiles.

A guided aerial bomb killed a married couple at home in the north-eastern Sumy region of Ukraine, regional authorities said.

By Press Association

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