Russian forces move further west after taking Ukrainian town of Avdiivka

As war enters third year, Russia has intensified bombardments of Ukrainian ports and grain infrastructure

The Russian ministry for defence has said its forces have advanced further to the west after taking control of the Ukrainian town of Avdiivka.

It said Russian forces had also destroyed a number of western-provided Ukrainian weapons in the past week including seven British-supplied Storm Shadow cruise missiles, a US Patriot anti-aircraft guided missile and launch vehicle, and 42 Himars rockets fired by multiple launch systems.

Reuters could not independently verify the battlefield reports.

The front lines in the war, which started two years ago on Saturday, had not shifted substantially since late 2022 before the taking of Avdiivka, and Russia still controls just under one-fifth of Ukrainian territory.


The capture of Avdiivka, following months of fighting with heavy casualties on both sides, was Russia’s first significant gain since taking the city of Bakhmut last May.

After taking Avdiivka, units of the “centre” group of Russian forces “continued advancing in a westerly direction”, the ministry statement said.

“In co-operation with aviation and artillery, they defeated accumulations of manpower and equipment of the Ukrainian armed forces” in six nearby settlements, it said.

Russian drone and missile attacks on Ukrainian regions in the south and east killed four people overnight and damaged residential and commercial buildings, officials said on Friday.

Ukrainian air defences shot down 23 out of 31 Russian-launched drones over five regions, the air force said.

“Another difficult night for Ukrainians. The enemy launched three dozen Shaheds and six missiles at peaceful settlements of the country,” said Oleksiy Kuleba, deputy head of president Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office.

The attacks killed four people and wounded nine others, Mr Kuleba said.

Three people were killed in the Black Sea port of Odesa when a Russian drone hit a commercial area, causing a fire, regional governor Oleh Kiper said.

In an attack on the Donetsk region near the front lines, one civilian was killed in the town of Myrnohrad, and 21 houses, a school, and a multi-story residential building were damaged, Mr Kuleba said.

In a post on Telegram, the military’s southern forces said they had intercepted nine drones in the Odesa region.

The military said missiles were also used in the attacks, but failed to hit any targets.

Pictures posted by the military showed heavy damage to buildings in the area and rescue teams picking their way through debris.

As the war enters its third year, Russia has intensified its bombardments of Ukrainian ports, including Odesa, and grain infrastructure in recent months after Moscow pulled out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, a wartime deal that enabled Ukraine’s exports to reach many countries facing the threat of hunger.

Kyiv has since set up an alternative corridor to ship grain and other products via its Black Sea ports near Odesa. In the city of Dnipro in the southeast, a Russian drone hit an apartment building, injuring at least eight people and damaging the two top floors. Serhiy Lysak, governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region, wrote on Telegram that the search ran through the night and other residents might still be under the rubble. – Reuters

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