America's News TodayIsrael-HamasWorld

Villages tumble as Russia exposes Ukraine’s vulnerable defenses

A series of swift Russian advances have challenged Ukraine’s new line of defense set up after their withdrawal from the key town of Avdiivka and are raising fears about Kyiv’s tactics and momentum on the front lines.

Ukraine announced a withdrawal from Avdiivka on February 17 to a series of positions to the town’s west. Yet three tiny villages have since fallen to Russian forces, with Kyiv insisting they never intended to defend them.

But the defensive line it declared it would fall back to – three villages further to the west – has since come under heavy Russian assault, with pro-Russian sources claiming Moscow has partially occupied all three settlements. Ukraine denies the claims.

The Russian advances come in the face of a deep crisis in munitions for the Ukrainian military, creating a near-existential debate for frontline troops who must ration ammunition and are questioning how long they can withstand Russian pressure.

In another sign of the mounting sense of unease, the new commander of the Ukrainian military, Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, twice in the past week scolded his subordinate officers for poor performance on this key front line.

On Thursday, Syrskyi criticised “certain shortcomings” and “miscalculations” by commanders on the Avdiivka front lines “which directly affected the sustainability of defence in certain areas.” On Saturday, he returned to the theme of inadequate staffing, suggesting he had replaced some officers who were “not aware of the situation” and “directly endanger[ed] the lives and health of [their] subordinates.”

Syrskyi became the military’s new commander three weeks ago, after his widely popular predecessor, Valery Zaluzhny, was replaced following months of tension with President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Syrskyi has inherited a battlefield where a resurgent Russia and brutal ferocity has exploited long-telegraphed shortcomings in Western aid, ammunition and personnel for Ukraine.

By  and , CNN