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A Soviet-era monument dedicated to the servicemen of World War II stands in front of a destroyed house of culture near Avdiivka, Donetsk region, Ukraine. Photo taken 21 March 2024. AP Photo/Alex Babenko
Ukraine War

Ukraine army chief says troops have been forced into a tactical retreat as they await US arms

He reported that Russian forces continue to attack “along the entire front line” of around 1,000kms.

UKRAINIAN TROOPS HAVE been forced to make a tactical retreat from three villages in the embattled east, the country’s army chief has said.

Col Gen Oleksandr Syrskyi warned of a worsening battlefield situation as his forces wait for much-needed arms from a huge US aid package to reach combat zones.

He reported that Russian forces continue to attack “along the entire front line” of around 1,000kms, with pitched battles raging west of Avdiivka, the eastern city they took in February after a gruelling, months-long fight.

“The most difficult situation is in the Pokrovsk and Kurakhove directions, where fierce battles continue,” Col Gen Syrskyi’s said in an update posted to the Telegram messaging app, referencing two Ukrainian-held cities in the war-torn Donetsk region, once a hub of industry.

He added: “The enemy has engaged up to four brigades in these directions, is trying to develop an offensive west of Avdiivka and Marinka, making its way to Pokrovsk and Kurakhove.

Units of the Defence Forces of Ukraine, preserving the lives and health of our defenders, moved to new frontiers west of Berdychi, Semenivka and Novomykhailivka.

Two of these front-line villages lie less than 50km east of Pokrovsk, while the third is located around 30 miles by road from Kurakhove.

A Washington-based think tank predicted late on Saturday that Russian forces “will likely make significant tactical gains in the coming weeks” as acute ammunition shortages continue to hobble Ukraine’s defence efforts.

In its latest operational assessment, the Institute for the Study of War said that Moscow’s forces have opportunities to push forward around Avdiivka, and also threaten nearby Chasiv Yar.

Its capture would give Russia control of a hilltop from which it can attack other key cities forming the backbone of Ukraine’s eastern defences.

Despite this, the think tank assessed that neither of these efforts by Moscow are likely to cause Kyiv’s defensive lines to collapse “in the near term”.

The Russian defence ministry has confirmed that Moscow’s troops had taken a village about 15km north of Avdiivka, days after the war institute reported on its likely capture early on Thursday.

That day’s assessment described Moscow’s gains as “relatively quick but still relatively marginal”, adding that Russian troops had advanced by no more than 5km over the previous week.

workers-manufacture155-mm-artillery-projectiles-at-the-scranton-army-ammunition-plant-in-scranton-pennsylvania-on-april-16-2024-the-plant-is-one-of-the-u-s-governments-own-production-facilities-f Workers manufacture155mm artillery projectiles at the Scranton Army Ammunition Plant in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The plant is one of the U.S. government's own production facilities for 155mm artillery projectile. Associated Press / Alamy Stock Photo Associated Press / Alamy Stock Photo / Alamy Stock Photo

US President Joe Biden promised last week that American weapons shipments would begin making their way into Ukraine within hours, as he signed into law a 95 billion dollar (€181 billion) measure – 61 billion dollars (€56 billion) of which was allocated for Ukraine — that also included assistance for Israel, Taiwan and other global hot spots.

The announcement marked an end to the long, painful battle with Republicans in US congress over urgently needed assistance for Ukraine.

Press Association