Avdiivka and Mariinka: Russians short of shells but continue storming Ukrainian positions

The Russian occupiers felt the disruption in the supply of ammunition when it comes to assaulting Ukrainian positions, but they continue launching powerful aircraft and artillery attacks on the Avdiivka-Mariinka front in Donetsk Oblast.

Oleksii Dmytrashkivskyi, head of the United Press Centre of the Defence Forces of the Tavria front, reported:

"The Russians are trying to attack our positions between Avdiivka and Mariinka. These attempts do not stop. The Russians are constantly getting the taste of their own medicine but do not give up these attempts anyway. It should be mentioned that they have suffered significant losses. If we consider last week's statistics, for instance, or even this week, we can see that the occupiers’ ability to attack has weakened. They do not have the same amount of military equipment and, as they report, they are on a "diet" regarding the shells for assault operations."

Dmytrashkivskyi states that some people remain in the town of Avdiivka despite the announced evacuation (according to the Donetsk Oblast Military Administration, nearly 1800 persons) constraints the actions of the Defence Forces of Ukraine. The locals also keep hiding eight children.

Having no success on the battlefield, the Russians are actively using aircraft and tubed artillery, simply wiping the settlements off the face of the Earth.

Due to allies ' delays, Ukraine lost the most experienced pilots who could train on F-16s.

Ukrainian pilots have said they need Western aircraft to fight the more advanced Russian planes. As they state, unfortunately, Ukraine is losing experienced pilots who could fly F-16s.

Ukrainian Armed Forces Major Vadym Voroshylov told the newspaper that it was becoming increasingly difficult to deter the Russians with outdated Soviet aircraft.

"The Russians change tactics all the time, so the war isn’t stable. They make traps. They will send up a Russian jet alone, tricking the Ukrainian pilot into thinking there is only one jet. Then, two or three more will appear on either side of it, effectively swarming the Ukrainian aircraft," the major said.

As Ukrainian pilots continued to fly Soviet-era MiG-29s, he stressed they could do no more than "hold the battlefield," while it has proved difficult to defeat the Russians who fly the Su-35 modern fighter jets and Su-34 bombers.

"Right now, we can only hold the enemy, but with F-16s, we could control the airfield, the seas, and the ground to protect infantry. We need more modern aircraft to be better than the enemy," he said.

In February, the UK government stated that training Ukrainian pilots on British aircraft could take three years, the Telegraph writes.

However, the Telegraph notes that this time frame is something Major Voroshylov and his colleague Colonel Volodymyr Lohachov, chief of the Ukrainian Air Force Command aviation department, dispute.

"Less than six months are required to train on such a jet,"  Colonel Lohachov said.

He states that while Ukraine is waiting for Western aircraft, it is losing its most experienced pilots.

"As long as we continue to wait, we will lose more pilots. We had a list of the most advanced pilots who could be trained on F-16s, and unfortunately, some of them have already been killed in action," Lohachov said.

According to Lohachov, "to be effective in the air, jets should have modern radars and air-to-air missiles".

"The radars on Russian jets are about four times better than what we have, and they can see much further. The Russian missiles are also significantly more capable than our Soviet ones. It is getting more dangerous. Sometimes we can’t even see that the Russians have launched missiles, which is very dangerous for pilots," he said.

He explained how Russia could attack from a distance of 200 km from the contact line, while Ukrainian aircraft have to fly much closer to the Russians to attack them.

The pilots’ message is stark: "Getting F-16s would help us survive and keep more people alive".

"If we want to strike Russian jets, we have to get much closer to the front line and fly at a low distance, which is very dangerous," Major Voroshylov said.

"The Russians have 40 air bases and over 700 aircraft and helicopters altogether, and they are more modern than our jets. We are working on getting Western jets because what we currently have is not enough to be effective on the battlefield," he said.