Russia’s relentless ‘meat assaults’ are wearing down outmanned and outgunned Ukrainian forces

Published January 22, 2024
Near Avdiivka, UkraineCNN — Straddling the frontlines, the small town of Avdiivka has become the epicenter of the war in Ukraine. Still in Ukrainian hands – just – it’s enclosed on three sides by Russian troops and cannons.

Pounded by the Russians, the town itself is unrecognizable.

Concrete carcasses mark what were once the town’s tallest buildings, seemingly floating amid small hills of rubble. The cross atop the town’s church, bent double by an explosion, points accusatorially at the Russian lines.

Amid the ruins, Russian and Ukrainian troops clash, preyed upon by drones and the occasional tank. Casualties are heavy on both sides but especially among the Russian attackers, who have thrown wave after human wave against the entrenched defenders.

“Meat assaults” is how one Ukrainian sniper, “Bess,” described these attacks to CNN. His callsign means demon in Ukrainian and the scene he recounts is hellish. The dead soldiers, “just lie there frozen,” the Omega Special Forces Group officer said from a house several miles behind the frontline in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region.

“Nobody evacuates them, nobody takes them away,” he said. “It feels like people don’t have a specific task, they just go and die.”

“Teren,” the commander of a Ukrainian drone reconnaissance unit in the town, said that even “if we can kill 40 to 70 servicemen with drones in a day, the next day they renew their forces and continue to attack.”

In 18 months of fighting around the town, he said, his pilots from the 110th Mechanized Brigade have killed at least 1,500 Russians. Still, they keep coming.



RELATED: Russia strikes back at Ukraine for ‘monstrous act of terrorism’ after market, oil terminals attacked

KYIV, UKRAINE – 2024/01/17: A couple seen looking out at the city of Kyiv. (Photo by Sergei Chuzavkov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Published January 22, 2024

Russia and Ukraine traded retaliatory strikes over the weekend after another Russian oil terminal was attacked on Sunday, as were the Russian-occupied city of Donetsk and nine Ukrainian regions.

Moscow accused Kyiv of launching a missile strike on a market in Donetsk city, killing at least 25 people and wounding 20 others, Russian officials said. Ukrainian armed forces operating in the region denied they had carried out the strike, stating that they “did not conduct any combat operations with means of destruction.”

Elsewhere, a fire broke out at a terminal of Russia’s largest liquefied natural gas producer Novatek on the Baltic Sea, a regional official said on Sunday, amid reports of drone sightings in the area. Several other Russian oil terminals have been targeted in recent days, in the Bryansk and Leningrad regions.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russian forces shelled nine regions in the country on Sunday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced a “new Polish defense package” after meeting in Kyiv with Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who was making his first visit to a non-EU country since returning to the top job in December.

“We appreciate such unflagging support. There is a new form of our cooperation – aimed at a larger scale of arms purchases for Ukrainian needs – the Polish loan for Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said in a statement.

Further details of the defense package were not provided. CNBC has contacted the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs for comment.

The leaders also discussed “the possibilities of joint future arms production,” Zelenskyy said.



RELATED: Ukrainian president welcomes new defense aid package by Poland

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy holds talks with visiting Polish Premier Donald Tusk in capital Kyiv

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (R) and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk take part in a meeting with Ukrainian students in Kyiv on January 22, 2024. (Photo by Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP) (Photo by SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images)
Published January 22, 2024

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday welcomed a new defense aid package by neighboring Poland.

“We appreciate Poland’s unwavering support and the new military aid package for Ukraine, as well as a new form of cooperation aimed at larger-scale arms purchases for Ukrainian needs,” Zelenskyy said on X, following talks with visiting Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk in the capital Kyiv.

Noting that he and Tusk had “very productive negotiations” regarding all aspects of their bilateral relations, Zelenskyy said that the new form of cooperation between the two countries includes a Polish loan for Ukraine.

Zelenskyy further said that they discussed the opportunities for future joint arms production.

Meanwhile, during a press conference following a meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Denys Shmyhal, Tusk said that Ukraine is not alone in the sense that this fight is taking place in every European country.

He also said that Poland joined the G-7 declaration on security guarantees for Ukraine in July last year, which he said is intended to “mobilize democratic countries” to support Kyiv.

Tusk arrived in Kyiv on an official visit earlier on Monday, where he and his counterpart Denys Shmyhal laid flowers at the Wall of Remembrance of the Fallen for Ukraine.





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