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Ukrainian Troops Retreat, but New Defensive Lines Are Lacking

Ukrainian forces are being forced to withdraw west of Avdeevka, yet there are no defensive lines to which to withdraw. This is the theme of an AP report posted overnight. Lack of ammunition is forcing the outnumbered Ukrainian soldiers to pull back, one village after another, including three surrendered on April 28, as intense fighting roils the countryside surrounding Avdeevka nearly three months after the strategic city fell to Russia, AP says.

“It’s necessary to increase the pace of building fortifications … so that when we retreat, we will retreat to a prepared position,” said Batyar, a unit commander who gave only his military call sign, in line with brigade protocols. “These fortifications are not enough.”

In the wake of the fall of Avdeevka to Russian forces, Ukraine is rushing to build concrete-fortified trenches, foxholes, firing positions, and other barricades on the front lines. But relentless shelling by Russia, lack of equipment, and crippling bureaucracy plague construction across the vast 1,000-km front, even as a new Russian offensive looms, according to a dozen Ukrainian soldiers, government officials, and construction company directors interviewed by the Associated Press.

AP notes, in so many words, that last summer’s Ukrainian offensive failed because of the extensive fortifications that Russia had built in the months prior. Ukraine, they say, has been slow to follow suit. What they don’t say is that Ukraine had spent years building extensive fortifications along the line of contact as it existed prior to Russia launching its special military operation, particularly along the northern outskirts of Donetsk city. In some locations, such as Bakhmut, for example, it took months of hard fighting and heavy pounding with artillery for the Russians to break through those defensive lines.

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