Ukraine is engaged in a determined combat to carry again the Russian onslaught.

Russian forces captured the longtime Ukrainian stronghold of Avdiivka earlier than daybreak on Saturday, Moscow’s first main battlefield achieve because it took Bakhmut final Might.

However throughout the complete 600-mile lengthy entrance, Ukraine is brief on ammunition with out renewed American navy help, and it’s struggling to replenish its personal depleted forces after two years of brutal preventing.

Russia’s assault has cut up into 5 main traces of assault, spanning cities and cities throughout a lot of the entrance in jap and southern Ukraine. Right here is the standing of Russia’s offensive in 5 important battles:

The now-destroyed metropolis of Avdiivka covers just some 12 sq. miles. However for the higher a part of a decade it carved a bulge within the entrance line that undermined important Russian logistical operations. It sits only some miles from the town of Donetsk, which Russia has occupied since 2014.

In current weeks, Russian forces have breached a critical supply line and threatened to encircle Ukrainian troopers. Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, the top of Ukraine’s forces within the south, mentioned that Ukraine had no selection however to withdraw.

“In a scenario the place the enemy is advancing on the corpses of their very own troopers with a 10-to-1 shell benefit, underneath fixed bombardment, that is the one right answer,” he mentioned in a press release.

It’s not clear how far the Russians may be capable of push this combat past Avdiivka, or how nicely the Ukrainians have constructed their subsequent traces of protection. However the subsequent main inhabitants facilities, dwelling to tens of 1000’s of civilians, are solely about 35 miles to the west.

Roughly 50,000 Russian troopers have been devoted to the combat for Avdiivka on this path, though the numbers fluctuated. Tens of 1000’s of Russians have been killed or wounded, based on Western and Ukrainian officers, however Russia has steadily replenished their ranks, together with utilizing convicts to hitch the preventing.

Even when the traces stabilize after the Russians take the town, its fall permits the Russian navy to maneuver troops and tools extra effectively behind the road because it presses in different instructions.

Learn extra: Losing Ground, Ukraine Seeks New Positions Around Avdiivka, Feb. 15

By final month, Russian forces had lastly cleared out the final Ukrainian defenders of Marinka, one other longtime frontline city.

There may be little or no left of Marinka after two years of Russian bombardments and battles. However its seize has allowed the Russians to show their consideration to the south and one other very important Ukrainian stronghold, Vuhledar.

Final 12 months, the Russians repeatedly tried to assault Vuhledar from the south and suffered catastrophic losses, together with a devastating defeat in one of many largest tank battles of the conflict.

However with Marinka underneath management, the Russians are attacking Vuhledar from the north. They’re presently advancing by means of the village of Novomykhailivka, which is about 13 miles to the northeast.

It’s not clear what number of forces the Russians have amassed on this path, however Ukrainian officers have said Russia has stored round 40,000 within the close by Mariupol space to be deployed for assaults from the south.

Troopers preventing within the Vuhledar space mentioned that the autumn of Avdiivka, 55 miles to the northeast, would doubtless release Russian forces to step up assaults from the north.

Learn extra: A Trophy in Ruins: Evidence Grows That Russia Controls Marinka, Jan. 4

When Ukraine’s failed summer season counteroffensive culminated final 12 months, its forces had managed to advance solely about ten miles deep into the southern entrance, reaching simply past a tiny village, Robotyne.

Russia now seems decided to win again what it misplaced.

The Russian navy has extra troops focused on this entrance than on the Avdiivka entrance, Dmytro Lykhovii, a spokesman for Ukrainian troopers preventing within the south, mentioned this week.

“Evidently the Russians have set a objective to realize some success there by storming in, simply as they’re attempting to do in Avdiivka,” he mentioned.

Learn extra: Russia Retakes Some Land Hard Won by Ukraine During Counteroffensive, Dec. 28

Ever because the Russians have been pushed out of occupied territories in northeastern Ukraine greater than a 12 months in the past — shedding management over greater than 500 settlements unfold over 11,000 sq. kilometers — they’ve been preventing to attempt to take it again.

Final 12 months, little territory modified arms, regardless of intense preventing within the forest belts alongside the entrance right here. Now, Russia is beginning to transfer ahead once more, albeit slowly within the face of fierce Ukrainian resistance.

Russian forces are pushing in two instructions from the town of Kreminna: towards the battered metropolis of Kupiansk to the north, and towards Lyman, 80 miles to the south. Russia has maintained a complete power of round 110,000 troops within the space for months, regardless of losses, Illia Yevlash, a spokesman for the navy within the space, advised reporters earlier this month.

Learn extra: Ukraine and Russia Battle for a Gateway City in the East, Dec. 27

Russia destroyed after which seized the town of Bakhmut in Might, its final vital territorial achieve on the battlefield earlier than advancing on Avdiivka this week. By the point the Russians took Bakhmut, their forces have been exhausted, and the Wagner mercenary group that led the combat was in open riot in opposition to the Russian ministry of protection.

Ukrainian hopes to use the disarray to counterattack across the flanks of the town largely stalled. Now, it’s the Russians who’ve the initiative.

Common Oleksandr Syrsky, the newly appointed commander of Ukrainian forces, mentioned not too long ago that the Russians are decided to interrupt by means of their defenses round Chasiv Yar, which might give them management of commanding heights within the space and expose the town of Kramatorsk to elevated artillery hearth. Some 62,000 Russian soldiers are on the bottom within the Bakhmut path, based on Ukrainian estimates.

“The scenario is tense, requiring fixed monitoring of the general scenario and immediate decision-making on the bottom,” Gen. Syrsky mentioned in a press release earlier this month.

Learn extra: Why Bakhmut? It’s a Question as Old as War., Might 5, 2023

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