Zelensky explains Avdeevka retreat

Author: Editors Desk Source: RT
February 17, 2024 at 17:42
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky delivers his speech at the Munich Security Conference on February 17, 2024. ©  Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky delivers his speech at the Munich Security Conference on February 17, 2024. © Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP
Ukrainian troops are pulling back to avoid encirclement and destruction, the president has said.

The Ukrainian military’s decision to withdraw from the Donbass stronghold of Avdeevka under relentless Russian pressure was “absolutely logical,”President Vladimir Zelensky has said. He explained that by doing so, Kiev is avoiding heavy casualties.

The announcement of the retreat was made on Friday by General Aleksandr Syrsky, Ukraine’s recently appointed commander-in-chief, who said that the decision sought “to stabilize the situation”and help Kiev maintain its positions.

His remarks came on the heels of reports from the front line suggesting that Ukrainian troops in Avdeevka were in dire straits. A senior commander of the Ukrainian 3rd Assault Brigade, which was recently urgently redeployed to the sector, described the situation as “critical” on Friday, adding that parts of the unit had been encircled. Several media reports also suggested that Russian troops had managed to cut the main logistics route to the embattled town.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, Zelensky attempted to downplay the latest developments, explaining that “in order to avoid encirclement, it was decided to withdraw to other positions.” This was done to “keep the maximum number of Ukrainians safe,” the president said, insisting that it was the right call.

He also noted that it “does not mean that people have withdrawn kilometers back, and Russia has captured anything.” Zelensky claimed that Moscow had succeeded “only in destroying several small settlements and towns,” with most of the damage being to Ukrainian lives.

Despite the latest setback, the Ukrainian leader insisted that Kiev would still win, arguing that it was limited only by a lack of adequate weaponry. “It depends not only on us. And the situation in Avdeevka confirms this. Unfortunately, keeping Ukraine in an artificial shortage of weapons… allows [Russian President Vladimir] Putin to adapt to the intensity of hostilities,” he complained.

Avdeevka has been a frontline city since 2014 when hostilities first erupted in Donbass following a Western-backed coup in Kiev. The area was often used by the Ukrainian military to shell residential districts in Donetsk, located just 20km from the city.

Meanwhile, an unnamed Pentagon official suggested on Friday that Ukraine might soon be unable to hold the line against Russia unless Congress approves a new funding request. Recently, the US House of Representatives failed to pass an additional $60 billion in aid for Ukraine, after Republicans demanded more provisions to improve security on the US southern border.

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