Putin declares Russia’s intent to expand territorial acquisitions in Ukraine after the tumultuous events in Avdiivka

Putin declares Russia's intent

On February 20th, President Vladimir Putin announced plans for Russian troops to advance further into Ukraine following the fall of Avdiivka. He described Ukrainian troops fleeing in chaos and emphasized the need to capitalize on this battlefield success. Avdiivka, with a population of 32,000, was captured by Russia on Saturday, marking Putin’s significant victory since the takeover of Bakhmut in May 2023. Footage from Russia’s defense ministry depicted extensive war damage in Avdiivka.

Putin noted that the Ukrainian order to withdraw came after their troops had already begun fleeing. He stressed the importance of treating captured Ukrainian soldiers according to international conventions. Addressing Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, Putin emphasized the necessity of a well-prepared development, highlighting the need for personnel, weapons, equipment, and ammunition.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba stated that Avdiivka’s fall could have been prevented if Kyiv had received the necessary weapons. He criticized delays in aid approval by the U.S. Congress, warning of Russia’s intention to continue advancing after seizing Avdiivka.

The U.S. Senate passed a $95 billion aid package, including funds for Ukraine, but House Speaker Mike Johnson refrained from bringing it to a vote. The conflict in Avdiivka follows months of intense fighting, with casualties reported on both sides. Despite Ukrainian forces’ efforts, Russia aims to weaken them as Kyiv considers further mobilization.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy appointed a new commander to oversee the war. Putin’s deployment of troops in February 2022 escalated the conflict, which had simmered for eight years in eastern Ukraine. Avdiivka holds symbolic importance, having experienced conflict since 2014 when it was briefly seized by Moscow-backed separatists before being reclaimed by Ukrainian forces.

Situated in the industrial Donbas region, Avdiivka lies 15 km north of Donetsk, a city controlled by Russia. The Soviet-era coke plant in Avdiivka was once among Europe’s largest. Additionally, Shoigu announced Russian control over the village of Krynky in Ukraine’s Kherson region, while Ukrainian forces maintained positions along the River Dnipro.

Both sides refrain from disclosing death tolls.