Nine months after Bakhmut’s fall, another devastated eastern town becomes the battleground in a fierce conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
Since 2014, Russia has been aiming to seize control of Avdiivka.
As the second anniversary of the war approaches and Russia gears up for presidential elections, Moscow’s forces have intensified their attack on the town. Prior to the war, Avdiivka had a population of approximately 33,000, but now only about 950 residents remain.
Equipped with significant amounts of Western weaponry, Ukraine’s much-anticipated counteroffensive in the east finally commenced in June 2023.
Despite Ukraine’s efforts, the extensive 1,000-kilometre frontline remains largely unchanged, with the country unable to breach Russia’s formidable defenses.
As the conflict shows no signs of abating, Republican lawmakers in the United States have hindered efforts to provide additional aid to Ukraine. Conversely, European Union leaders have recently greenlit a substantial new assistance package totaling 50 billion euros.
Facing a dire shortage of troops and in desperate need of reinforcements to relieve exhausted frontline soldiers, Ukraine’s armed forces are grappling with the urgent necessity for additional manpower.
The Ukrainian military has expressed the urgent need for up to half a million individuals to bolster its ranks.
However, there is a growing reluctance among Ukrainians to enlist and risk their lives in the conflict.
In response to this challenge, a contentious bill is currently being deliberated in parliament. This legislation proposes harsher penalties for draft dodgers and reduces the age requirement for military service.
Interestingly, one of Russia’s prominent patriotic songs, produced by Kremlin-supported popstar Shaman, bears a relevant title to the ongoing debate surrounding military enlistment.
The blonde singer took the stage to perform the anthem, which glorifies Russian identity “despite global opposition,” for troops stationed in Mariupol. Additionally, she headlined a concert in Moscow commemorating Russia’s annexation of four Ukrainian territories.
Recently, incarcerated opposition figure Alexei Navalny lamented being subjected to the daily repetition of “I am Russian” while in prison.
In the ongoing conflict, Ukrainian citizens have coined a nickname for the menacing Iranian-made attack drones frequently deployed by Russia against Kyiv and other urban centers.
Drones have emerged as a pivotal element of warfare, both on land and at sea. Moscow and Kyiv are locked in a race to develop advanced drone technology for reconnaissance, offensive strikes, and countermeasures.
Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation, emphasized the critical role of drones in the conflict, asserting that victory hinges on their strategic utilization.
The introduction of US-made Patriot missile defense systems has proven to be a game-changing development for Ukraine, enabling the interception of a significant number of missiles and lethal drones targeting its urban centers.
Notably, Kyiv has utilized these systems to neutralize hypersonic Kinzhal missiles, previously touted as “invincible” by the Kremlin.
In a plea for additional Patriots last month, President Zelensky emphasized their crucial role, stating that Ukraine’s survival would be “impossible” without them.
Following the demise of its leader Yevgeny Prigozhin in a mysterious plane crash last August, the Russian paramilitary group has experienced a significant setback. Prigozhin, who spearheaded a mutiny against Moscow’s military leadership, left the group’s mission in the hands of other factions and commanders. Once instrumental in capturing the eastern town of Bakhmut, the mercenary group now operates as a mere shadow of its former self.
The dismissal of Valery Zaluzhny, widely lauded as the architect behind Ukraine’s remarkable resistance against a far superior Russian military force, marks a significant development in the country’s military leadership. Zaluzhny, the esteemed commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces, has been relieved of his duties.
President Zelensky’s decision to remove the renowned “iron general” from his position stemmed from the perceived shortcomings of last year’s unsuccessful counteroffensive, with Zelensky citing the imperative for “urgent changes.”
The general’s characterization of the conflict as a “stalemate” was a point of contention with Zelensky, who adamantly refuted such claims.