World Updates

Escalating battle for Avdiivka is crucial for more than just territory

A railroad in a city south of Bakhmut might become a point of emphasis for the Russian military in the ongoing war in Ukraine, according to a political analyst.

Avdiivka, which is about 60 miles south of Bakhmut in the Donbas region just north of Russian-occupied Donetsk, has been part of the frontline since 2014, when the city was largely destroyed. It has been called a site of renewed military importance by the U.K. Ministry of Defense.

A recent evacuation of Ukrainians in Avdiivka was strongly encouraged by Vitalii Barabash, a Ukrainian official in the city, because of escalated Russian shelling. He compared the scene to “a place from post-apocalyptic movies.”

“The Avdiivka railroad is important because, first, this is the way the Russians supply the frontlines, so capturing Avdiivka will make it possible to send more troops and equipment faster and create a supply hub,” Mikhail Alexseev, a political science professor at San Diego State University, told Newsweek.

Two women stand in front of a destroyed apartment building after a strike in the city of Avdiivka, Donetsk Oblast, on March 18, 2023. A Ukrainian political analyst told Newsweek that the city’s railroad could be viewed by the Russian military as important as a hub for supplies and soldiers.
Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty

“From Avdiivka, the railroad heads to Pokrovske, which is reportedly a significant area right now where Ukraine concentrates its forces and could become a likely next target,” he added. “In broader terms, the railroad arteries from Avdiivka lead to Dnipro and Kyiv.”

Aside from the railroads, he said a large reservoir in the city is critical infrastructure because it supplies much of the Donetsk region—and capturing Avdiivka will facilitate Russian advances there.

Shelling by Russian-backed militants in August 2021 caused Ukrzaliznytsia, the state-owned railway operator, to suspend all passenger traffic to Avdiivka, according to the Kyiv Post.

At that time, the city had an official population of 35,000, though unofficial estimates put the number at about 20,000 because many people left during years of war and never returned. A battle in Avdiivka occurred in late January and early February 2017, when casualties rivaled those in the city in 2014, when Ukraine recaptured the city from pro-Russian separatists.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the private military company Wagner Group, recently denied reports of his soldiers being transferred to Avdiivka. The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, said Russian military leaders likely committed “limited higher quality Wagner Group elements” to its offensive. Wagner fighters have been prevalent in Bakhmut since last summer.

Oxana Shevel, associate professor of political science at Tufts University, told Newsweek that the Russian change in focus from Bakhmut to Avdiivka in her view is not “a very significant development.”

“The broader context remains that Russia is not able to mount anything resembling an effective offensive,” Shevel said. “They have been trying to capture Bakhmut for months, at great loss. They may be trying to see if Avdiivka is potentially somewhat weaker or less effectively defended, reasoning that they might stand a better chance to achieve local success there after failing in Bakhmut.”

The war is moving fast, she added, so a captured town could become less important as potential battles occur in other fortified areas of the Donbas.

“This is terrible for Ukraine since Russia’s scorched earth tactics pulverize Ukrainian settlements,” she said. “But I would say that these developments also show that Russia’s ability to accomplish even the most minimal goal of the ‘special military operation’ as articulated by Putin—’liberation’ of all of Donbas—is highly doubtful if not to say impossible.

“And yet Putin shows no indication that he’s prepared to compromise in any way, so he apparently remains committed to a long war that he still hopes to win, and the fighting will continue.”

Most Related Links :
Public News Time Latest News Sports News Finance News Automobile News

Root link

Related Articles

Back to top button