After capturing Avdiivka, Russian troops advancing further West: 'We know what's coming'

Ukraine says it will form units for counter-offensive actions later this year

UKRAINE-CRISIS/EAST Ukrainian servicemen from air defence unit of the 93rd Mechanized Brigade monitor a sky at a frontline, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, near the town of Bakhmut | Reuters

After capturing the strategic city of Avdiivka, Russian troops are fast advancing further west, targetting the cities of Pokrovsk, Kostyantynivka and Kramatorsk. The residents of these Eastern cities are now fleeing their homes fearing a fast-approaching front line and occupation.

Though Ukraine claims its forces are "holding on", it is facing Russian troops in five areas along the 1,100km (700 miles) front line, according to BBC.

In the industrial city of Kostiantynivka, which lies 30 km west of Bakmut,  buildings and railway stations bear the brunt of Russian missiles. "We know what's coming. We're tired all day [and suffer] moods and panic attacks. It's constantly depressing, and we're scared," Mariya, a resident of Kostiantynivka, told BBC. 

Anton Pron from the White Angels police evacuation squad, who helps evacuate people away from front-line towns, told the British broadcaster that there is constant shelling and artillery. "The enemy's aviation is working all the time. The Russians drop bombs on residential houses," he said. Families with children must evacuate from front-line settlements.

Many have lost hope. Alla, who's waiting for her train to Kyiv, told BBC: "A year ago, we thought we'd get help from the West and that our counter-offensive would work, but not anymore," she says. "People used to believe, but not now." 

However, Ukrainian military spokesperson Dmytro Lykhoviy told national television on Wednesday that Russian forces were now unable to gain new ground near Avdiivka. He reiterated that Russian troops were instead focusing on an area to the south, near the village of Novomykhailivka. 

Maksym Zhorin, a Ukrainian commander in the area, too claimed that Russian forces were having difficulty making headway since the capture of Avdiivka and a number of neighbouring villages. Their latest target, he said, was the village of Orlivka. "They are constantly attempting to advance and make progress wherever possible," Zhorin wrote on Telegram. "Despite significant losses, they persist in launching assaults, both day and night." 

Meanwhile, a top Ukrainian military commander said the Ukrainian military will stabilise the battlefield situation shortly and aims to form units for counter-offensive actions later this year.

"We will stabilise the situation shortly," Oleksandr Pavliuk, appointed as ground force commander during the recent top military reshuffle, said in televised comments, "and do everything possible to prepare the troops for more active actions, and to seize the initiative." He added the current work was aimed at withdrawing military units that lost their potential and restoring them to later form a force for counter-offensive actions this year.

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