Ukraine retreats on eastern front

    Ukraine's top commander said on Sunday that Kyiv's outnumbered troops had fallen back to new positions west of three villages on the eastern front where Russia has concentrated significant forces in several locations.

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    The statement by Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi reflected Ukraine’s deteriorating position in the east that Kyiv hopes it can stabilise once it takes delivery of U.S. weapons under a $61 billion aid package approved this week.

    “The situation at the front has worsened,” he wrote on the Telegram app, describing the “most difficult” areas as west of occupied Maryinka and northwest of Avdiivka, the town captured by Russian forces in February.

    Kyiv’s troops, he said, had taken up new positions west of the villages of Berdychi and Semenivka, both north of Avdiivka, and Novomykhailivka, further south near the town of Maryinka.

    “In general, the enemy achieved certain tactical successes in these areas, but could not gain operational advantages,” Syrskyi said, adding that Russia had committed four brigades to the assault.

    Freshly rested Ukrainian brigades were being rotated in those areas to replace units that had suffered losses, he said.

    His statement did not mention the status of Novobakhmutivka, another village near Berdychi, that Russia’s defence ministry said on Sunday its forces had captured.

    Moscow’s troops have been slowly advancing since capturing the bastion town of Avdiivka, taking advantage of Ukrainian shortages of artillery shells and manpower.

    Online battlefield maps produced by open-source intelligence analysts suggest they have advanced more than 15 km (9.5 miles) in the direction of the village of Ocheretyne since capturing Avdiivka.

    Further up the front, the Kyiv-held town of Chasiv Yar is a key emerging battleground because of its position on elevated ground that could serve as a gateway to the cities of Kostiantynivka, Sloviansk and Kramatorsk.

    Financial Times reported last month that the Ukraine needs 500,000 military recruits more. Some 330,000 troops were estimated to be deployed on the battlefield then.


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