Russian President Putin congratulates servicemen for capture of Ukraine’s Avdiivka

By Thomson Reuters Feb 17, 2024 | 3:07 PM

(Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated military units and their commander on Saturday on the capture of the Ukrainian city of Avdiivka, the Kremlin said.

The Kremlin website said Putin was presented with a report on the capture of the city from Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.

“The head of state congratulated Russian soldiers on this success, an important victory,” it said.

Russian news agencies quoted a telegram that Putin sent to the commander of the “centre” group of forces in Ukraine, Colonel-General Andrei Mordvichev.

“For outstanding military activity, I express my gratitude to all troops under your direction who took part in battles for Avdiivka,” the agencies quoted Putin as saying.

The telegram listed units taking part in the operation.

Russian forces had been engaged in sustained attacks on Avdiivka since mid-October. It had been briefly held by pro-Russian groups in 2014 when they seized large chunks of eastern Ukraine, but later retaken by Ukrainian forces.

Capturing the city was likely to provide a morale boost for Russia ahead of Putin’s bid for re-election next month, almost certain to result in his victory.

It is also seen as a key step in securing Moscow’s hold on the regional centre of Donetsk, about 20 km (12 miles) to the east, held by Russian and pro-Russian forces since 2014.

(Reporting by Ron Popeski; editing by Diane Craft)