Does Avdiivka’s Fall Indicate a Shift in Russia’s Favor in the Ukraine War?


Ukraine’s new head of the armed forces, Gen Oleksandr Syrskyi, has withdrawn troops from the eastern city of Avdiivka in a bid to preserve life and avoid encirclement. Despite significant losses, Russia’s relentless four-month assault has left Ukrainian forces outnumbered and outgunned. This marks Moscow’s largest victory since Ukraine’s unsuccessful counter-offensive last year.

The fall of Avdiivka underscores the disparity in size between Ukraine and Russia, with the latter’s population being more than four times larger. Russia has been able to replenish its lost soldiers almost immediately, while Ukrainian forces have also suffered losses, but not to the same extent.

Russia’s advance has been gradual, with wave after wave of attacks launched since last October. Despite Ukraine’s efforts to hold them off, Russian troops have now penetrated defenses that have been reinforced over the past decade.

In the long term, Ukraine has previously been forced into similar retreats, notably in 2022. However, a subsequent influx of Western weapons and innovative military strategies led to a reversal of fortunes later that year.

The current conflict is being significantly influenced by global politics. Delays in Western aid, particularly a $95bn package from the US, have contributed to Ukraine’s likely retreat in Avdiivka. This has resulted in ammunition rationing and low morale among Ukrainian forces.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ambition to take over all of Ukraine remains a possibility. This could either reignite Western unity in an attempt to prevent it or fuel skepticism about Ukraine’s ability to win this war.

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