20 Feb 2024, 09:35

Zelensky says frontline situation 'difficult' due to aid 'delays'

KYIV, Ukraine, Feb 20, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday said his troops were facing complicated fighting along sections of the sprawling front line, with delays in Western military aid impacting his army.
   Moscow's forces are back on the offensive in eastern and southern Ukraine, and captured Avdiivka in the eastern Donetsk region, securing their first major gain since taking Bakhmut in May 2023.
   "The situation is extremely difficult in several parts of the front line, where Russian troops have concentrated maximum reserves," Zelensky said.
   He was returning from a trip to brigades around the northeastern city of Kupiansk, in the frontline Kharkiv region.
   Russian troops "are taking advantage of the delays in helping Ukraine," Zelensky continued, adding his country faced artillery shortages and needed frontline air defence capabilities as well as longer-range weapons.
   Earlier in the day, Ukrainian troops said they were facing "heavy fire" from advancing Russian forces in the southern Zaporizhzhia region.
   Senior Ukrainian commander Oleksandr Tarnavsky said Russia was launching multiple attacks near the village of Robotyne -- one of the few places where Ukraine had managed to regain ground during last year's counter-offensive.
   Russia was trying to advance with "small assault groups with the involvement of several units of armoured vehicles," he said in a Telegram post.
   "These offensive attempts are being halted, the enemy is being eliminated in the outskirts of Robotyne," Tarnavsky, who commands Ukraine's forces in the area, said in a post on Telegram.
   Reports from Russian military bloggers had earlier said Moscow's forces were in the southern edges of the village.
   "The situation is dynamic here, the enemy is inflicting heavy fire," Tarnavsky's spokesperson Dmytro Lykhoviy said earlier Monday on state TV.
   Like many settlements across eastern Ukraine, Robotyne has been completely flattened by months of artillery fire.
   Ukraine's defences have been stretched in recent weeks by shortages in ammunition and manpower.
   Lykhoviy said the Russians were "regrouping" after Ukraine withdrew from Avdiivka and "will probably transfer units to other sectors."
   Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed the capture of Avdiivka as an "important victory" for his troops, just days before the two-year anniversary of Russia's invasion on February 24.

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