Ukraine said on Thursday that it has been forced to relinquish some ground in the country’s east due to a Russian advance, while the NATO military alliance’s president stressed Moscow must not be allowed to win the conflict.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called the siege on his military troops in the Donbas area of eastern Ukraine as “Hell” this week. He described heavy combat near the town of Avdiivka and the defended settlement of Pisky, where Kyiv has just recognized Russia’s “partial success”

On Thursday, the Ukrainian military stated that Russian soldiers launched at least two attacks on Pisky, but that its troops were able to resist them.

Ukraine has spent the previous eight years constructing defensive positions in Pisky, seeing it as a buffer zone between Russian-backed troops controlling Donetsk, which is roughly 10 kilometers (6 miles) to the southeast.

General Oleksiy Gromov told a press conference that Ukrainian troops had reclaimed two villages near the eastern city of Sloviansk, but had been driven back to the outskirts of Avdiivka after being forced to evacuate a critical defensive position, a coal mine.

The Russian Ministry of Defense confirmed the attack.

It claimed to have inflicted severe casualties on Ukrainian troops in the vicinity of Avdiivka and two other sites in Donetsk region, compelling Kyiv’s mechanised and mechanised infantry units to evacuate.

Reuters could not immediately confirm either side’s claims.

The Russian defense ministry published video footage of Russian rocket launchers in operation, as well as tanks moving and firing at high speeds over open territory. It was unclear where they were shot.

According to unconfirmed accounts, Russian-backed soldiers have reached the outskirts of Pisky.

Ukraine, armed with advanced Western weapons, has also attacked Russian-backed soldiers in the region.

On Thursday, officials in the Russian-backed self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) announced that Ukrainian shelling killed at least five people and injured six more in Donetsk city.

Social media footage showed victims, some blown up, lying near a road in downtown Donetsk. The pavement was smeared with blood.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, the Ukrainian governor of Donetsk, stated on Telegram that Russian bombardment had killed three people and injured five in Bakhmut, Maryinka, and Shevchenko in the last 24 hours.

He said that Russian artillery fire killed eight civilians and injured four more in the Donetsk town of Toretsk. 

Russia, which denies attacking civilians on purpose, has stated that it intends to take full control of the larger Donetsk province, one of two that comprise the industrialised Donbas region, as part of a “special military operation” to protect its security from what it sees as unjustified NATO enlargement.

Ukraine and the West, who see Russia’s activities as an unprovoked imperial-style war of aggression, say Russian soldiers must retreat to their posts before President Vladimir Putin sends tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on February 24.

Moscow, which often speaks about the necessity for its soldiers to go farther into Ukraine, does not seem willing to do so freely.

Source: Reuters

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