Ukraine troops withdraw from frontline city Avdiivka

Ukrainian troops have withdrawn from the beleaguered frontline city of Avdiivka to avoid being encircled, new military chief Oleksandr Syrsky said Saturday, handing Russia its biggest symbolic victory following Kiev's failed summer counter-offensive.

Russia has been trying to capture Avdiivka for months. It is the most significant territorial gain for Russian forces since they seized the eastern city of Bakhmut last May and comes ahead of the second anniversary of the start of the invasion.

"I decided to withdraw our units from the city and switch to defence on more favourable lines," Syrsky said on Facebook.

"Our soldiers performed their military duty with dignity, did everything possible to destroy the best Russian military units and inflicted significant losses on the enemy," Syrsky said.

This is the first major decision by Syrsky since his appointment on Feb. 8 and he said it was taken to preserve the lives of soldiers and prevent their encirclement.

Ukraine is facing mounting pressure on the eastern front because of ammunition shortages, with a possible $60 billion package of U.S. military aid held up in Washington since last year due to wrangling in Congress.

General Oleksandr Tarnavsky, who commands the Avdiivka area, said he had withdrawn from the city to "move to defence on more favourable lines".

"In a situation where the enemy is advancing over the corpses of their own soldiers with a ten-to-one shelling advantage, under constant bombardment, this is the only right decision," he said on Telegram.

"Encirclement was prevented, personnel were withdrawn, and our soldiers took up defence at the designated lines."

Before issuing orders to pull out of Avdiivka, Tarnavsky on Friday said several...

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