The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.

Ukraine troops withdraw from frontline city of Avdiivka, army chief says

Ukrainian troops have withdrawn from the front-line city of Avdiivka, the new army chief announced, after months of heavy fighting and little progress in repelling Russian forces in the country’s eastern front. “I decided to withdraw our units from the town and move to defence from more favourable lines in order to avoid encirclement and preserve the lives and health of servicemen,” Oleksandr Syrskii said on Saturday, days after taking the helm of the Ukrainian military in a major shake-up. The battle for the industrial hub, less than 10km (six miles) north of the Russian-controlled city of Donetsk, has been one of the bloodiest of the two-year war. Many compare it with the battle for Bakhmut, in which tens of thousands of soldiers were killed. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Saturday that pulling out troops “was a professional decision that will save many Ukrainian lives”. “Our actions are limited only by the sufficiency and length of range of our strength,” he added, pointing to the situation in Avdiivka. Russia has been trying to capture the city since October and has surrounded it on three sides, leaving limited resupply routes for Ukrainian forces. Avdiivka had about 34,000 inhabitants before the Russian invasion. Most of the city has been since destroyed but an estimated 1,000 residents remain, according to local authorities. Videos on so cial media showed a town left in rubble. “In a situation where the enemy is advancing over the corpses of their own soldiers with a 10- to-one shelling advantage, under constant bombardment, this is the only right decision,” said Oleksandr Tarnavsky, the army’s commander of the Avdiivka area. The city has important symbolic value and Moscow hopes its capture will make Ukraine’s bombing of Donetsk more difficult. The withdrawal comes ahead of Russian presidential elections scheduled for March in which incumbent Vladimir Putin is set to win a fifth term, allowing him to continue leading the invasion of Ukraine. Avdiivka lies in the Donetsk region of Ukraine, which the Kremlin has claimed to be part of Russia since a 2022 annexation that remains unrecognised by nearly all United Nations members. At the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, Zelenskyy pushed for countries to give Ukraine longer-range weapons and more air defence systems. “Unfortunately keeping Ukraine in the artificial deficit of weapons, particularly in deficit of artillery and long-range capabilities, allows Putin to adapt to the current intensity of the war,” Zelenskyy said in Germany. “The self-weakening of democracy over time undermines our joint results.” He also promised “to surprise Russia” later this year with new drone systems and electronic warfare. Zelenskyy on Friday signed security pacts with France and Germany to lock in support for Kyiv. He is also expected to make further pleas for financing and armaments at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday. All 27 European Union countries this month agreed on an additional 50-billion-euro ($54bn) aid package for Ukraine. Aljazeera

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.