Barabash said that “two dozen missiles” hit the area Wednesday. “There are dead, wounded, people under the rubble,” he said.
Avdiivka, which sits in a geographically strategic pocket close to the Russian-occupied city of Donetsk, has been a target of Moscow’s military aggression since 2014 — but so far the Kremlin’s forces have failed in repeated attempts to capture it.
Barabash said Russian forces on Tuesday began “perhaps the largest Russian offensive on the city” since Moscow initiated its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Avdiivka is located 13 miles north of Donetsk city and was an industrial center before the war.
Russian troops are “trying to storm in many directions — 10-12 directions at the same time, and this with the support of aviation,” Barabash said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Thursday that his forces are “holding their positions” in Avdiivka. “It is Ukrainian courage and unity that will determine how this war will end,” Zelensky posted on his Telegram channel.
Vadym Sukharevskyi, commander of Ukraine’s 59th Separate Mechanized Brigade, which is deployed near Avdiivka, said in a text message to The Washington Post on Thursday that Russian forces have “concentrated up to three fresh brigades” in the direction of Avdiivka.
“The goal is to capture Avdiivka from the south and north,” Sukharevskyi said.
The Russians are carrying out “simultaneous massive strikes by mechanized columns and foot assault groups, with the support of artillery and aviation, in combination with strikes on our rear and the extensive use of drones,” he said.
He also said that four Russian battalions have lost “their combat capability” due to losses. Other Ukrainian reports said that the Russians have suffered heavy losses in equipment, though none of this information could be independently verified.
On Thursday, the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said geolocated footage indicates that “Russian gains around Avdiivka are concentrated to the southwest” and that Russian forces “have not completed an operational encirclement of the settlement and will likely struggle to do so if that is their intent.”
The think tank said that Avdiivka was a “notoriously well-fortified and defended Ukrainian stronghold, which will likely complicate Russian forces’ ability to closely approach or fully capture the settlement.”
Moscow most likely intends “to fix Ukrainian forces and prevent them from redeploying to other areas of the front,” but Ukrainian officials have identified the Russian strategy and are “unlikely to unduly commit Ukrainian manpower to this axis.”
Kamila Hrabchuk in Kyiv and Serhiy Morgunov in Warsaw contributed to this report.