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Russia Launches Fierce, Costly Attacks on Ukraine City

In this photo provided by Ukraine's military, Ukrainian soldiers pass by a bus burning after a Russian drone hit it near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Nov. 23, 2023.
In this photo provided by Ukraine's military, Ukrainian soldiers pass by a bus burning after a Russian drone hit it near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Nov. 23, 2023.

Russia, which had bombarded the eastern city of Avdiivka for weeks, is now sending waves of troops toward the destroyed but strategically important spot in eastern Ukraine — and suffering terrible losses, Ukrainian senior officials and soldiers said Thursday.

"The fields are just littered with corpses," Oleksandr, a deputy of a Ukrainian battalion in the 47th mechanized brigade, told Agence France-Presse.

"They are trying to exhaust our lines with constant waves of attacks," he said. He declined to provide his full name for security reasons.

It is a strategy similar to the one Russia used against Bakhmut, a city it eventually captured.

Since mid-October, Russia has been trying to wrest the small city from Ukraine with no success, the Ukrainians say. The city sits on the front line 5 kilometers from Donetsk, the Russian-controlled capital of the region, one of four regions Moscow said it annexed from Ukraine.

Russia-backed separatists captured Avdiivka in 2014 and held it briefly before Ukrainian forces took it back and have been fortifying it ever since.

About 1,400 residents remain of the city’s prewar population of 32,000, said Vitaliy Barabash, head of Avdiivka's military administration, who described the Russian onslaught as fierce.

"As regards the city, there is an average number of eight to 16 to 18 air attacks per day. Sometimes 30. We don't have time to count them," Barabash told Channel 24 television on Thursday. Russian reports on the war rarely mention Avdiivka.

Reuters could not independently verify battle reports from either side.

Earlier Thursday, four people were killed and five were wounded in Russian shelling in Ukraine’s southern region of Kherson on Thursday, Ukrainian officials said.

Ukrainian Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said more than 60 residential and infrastructure buildings were damaged in the attack.

“It is preliminarily known that the shelling was carried out with cluster munitions,” Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukraine’s presidential office, said on Telegram. VOA could not independently verify that report.

The Russian army abandoned Kherson late last year but still regularly targets the area from the eastern bank of the Dnipro River.

Meanwhile, Russian state television said Thursday one of its journalists died after being hurt in a Ukrainian drone attack in the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia region of southern Ukraine.

The Russian network announced the death of Boris Maksudov a day after the Russian defense ministry said he was hit while working in Zaporizhzhia.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy used part of his nightly address Wednesday to highlight new military aid packages from allies that he said include help for his country’s air defenses.

Zelenskyy said the aid would better protect Ukraine’s cities and towns from Russian attacks and that “Ukraine’s sky shield is getting more powerful literally every month.”

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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