Russian forces advance in Ukraine’s east

By Thomson Reuters Apr 29, 2024 | 6:45 AM

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian forces advanced at points along the front line in Ukraine on Monday, taking a village in the Donetsk region, gaining better positions in the Kharkiv region and repelling a number of Ukrainian attacks, Russia’s defence ministry said.

Russia controls about 18% of Ukraine – in the east and south – and has been gaining ground since the failure of Kyiv’s 2023 counter-offensive to make any serious inroads against well dug-in Russian troops.

President Vladimir Putin in February ordered Russian troops to push further into Ukraine after the fall of the town of Avdiivka where he said Ukrainian troops had been forced to flee in chaos. Ukraine said it withdrew from Avdiivka.

Russia’s defence ministry said its troops had taken the village of Semenivka, northwest of Avdiivka. Russia said it had defeated Ukrainian forces and foreign mercenaries in a number of other villages in the area.

Russia also reported defeating Ukrainian troops in the areas of Synkivka in the Kharkiv region and at a number of other points along the front line. It also said it had struck Ukrainian drone workshops.

Ukraine’s general staff said that its troops had repelled enemy attacks near Semenivka, and reported that its soldiers had repelled a number of other Russian attacks.

Reuters was unable to immediately verify battlefield accounts from either side. Both sides have restrictions on journalists covering the conflict.

Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine has killed thousands of people and triggered the biggest crisis in relations between Russia and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

The West and Ukraine say they will not rest until Russian forces are defeated, and cast the war as an imperial-style land grab aimed at forcing the country back into Moscow’s orbit.

But Russia has been rearming faster than the West, has a larger army than before the invasion and has a population several times larger than Ukraine which is trying to draft more men into its army.

Russia says it will achieve all its aims in what it calls the “special military operation” in Ukraine, parts of which Moscow now says it considers to be Russian territory.

Russia casts the war as a battle with the West, which Putin says ignored Moscow’s attempt at friendship after the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union and sought to grab control of Ukraine while enlarging the NATO military alliance eastwards.

On Sunday, the Russian defence ministry announced the capture of Novobakhmutivka, another village close to Ocheretyne, which has become a focal point of fighting in recent days.

“Russian forces will likely continue to make tactical gains in the Avdiivka direction in the coming weeks,” said the Institute for the Study of War, a research organization which says it is committed to helping achieve U.S. strategic objectives.

“The next line of defensible settlements in the area is some distance from the Ukrainian defensive line that Russian forces have been attacking since the seizure of Avdiivka in mid-February 2024,” it said.

(Reporting by Reuters; editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Andrew Heavens)