Ukraine withdraws troops from Avdiivka

The situation in Avdiivka, a city near occupied Donetsk, has become increasingly dire, leading Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Oleksandr Syrskyi to make the decision to withdraw Ukrainian units from the heavily battered city. In a statement, he cited the operational situation, the risk of encirclement, and the need to preserve the lives and health of servicemen as reasons for the withdrawal. Despite the withdrawal, Syrskyi praised the Ukrainian soldiers for their dignity and acknowledged their efforts in countering Russian military units, causing significant losses to the enemy.

Avdiivka has been a focal point of intensified Russian attacks since October 2023, with Moscow aiming to encircle and capture the city. General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi reported that Russia was deploying "all reserves" in assaults against Avdiivka and redeploying troops from other sectors. Ukrainian forces reportedly repelled 30 Russian attacks on February 16, accompanied by 20 air strikes and over 150 artillery shells.

Earlier on the same day, Tarnavskyi announced the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from Zenit, a strategic position on Avdiivka's southeastern outskirts that had been a strongpoint since 2014. Despite the withdrawals, the Avdiivka campaign has proven costly for Russia, with substantial losses in manpower and equipment. Tarnavskyi reported that since January 1, Moscow had lost over 20,000 troops, 199 tanks, and 481 armored fighting vehicles.

In a grim detail, the Ukrainian National Resistance Center reported that due to high casualties, Russia is using abandoned schools as morgues for its soldiers. The situation highlights the heavy toll of the conflict and the strategic significance of Avdiivka in the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia.

 Russian attack damages infrastructure facility in Zaporizhzhia, causes heating outages

Russian forces struck Zaporizhzhia on the afternoon of February 17, damaging an infrastructure facility and causing significant disruption to the city. Anatolii Kurtiev, the acting mayor of Zaporizhzhia, reported that the attack left around 4,000 residents without heating.

This incident is part of a sustained effort by Russia to target Ukraine's energy infrastructure, impacting essential services for civilians. Similar attacks have been carried out during the winter of 2022-2023 and continue in the current period.

An explosion was reported in Zaporizhzhia at approximately 12 p.m. local time, according to Zaporizhzhia Oblast Governor Ivan Fedorov. However, details regarding the specific weaponry used in the attack were not specified by either Fedorov or Kurtiev.

The consequences of the attack included an interruption in the city's heating network, leading to heating outages in 39 apartment buildings, as conveyed by Kurtiev on Telegram. Fortunately, no casualties were reported in connection with the incident.

These attacks on critical infrastructure further exacerbate the challenges faced by civilians in affected regions, highlighting the ongoing impact of the conflict on essential services and the well-being of the population.

Two-story house ruined in Kupiansk

Two-storey house ruined in Kupiansk, people may be trapped under rubble

A devastating attack in the town of Kupiansk (Kharkiv Oblast) resulted in the destruction of a two-story house with two entrances and damage to at least five private houses. The attack occurred around 13:30 local time and is attributed to Russian forces. As a consequence, there is a possibility that people may be trapped under the rubble.

Oleh Syniehubov, the Head of the Kharkiv Oblast State Administration, reported on Telegram that two women were hospitalized with injuries, and one civilian man received on-the-spot treatment. The aftermath of the bombardment is currently being addressed, with a focus on potential rescue efforts.

Syniehubov later provided an update, stating that a 69-year-old woman had been rescued from under the rubble and was hospitalized with a fractured limb. However, the search and rescue operation continues, as two people are still believed to be trapped under the debris.

The attack on Kupiansk is part of a broader pattern of Russian airstrikes targeting border settlements in Kharkiv Oblast, with over 10 airstrikes reported on Saturday alone. Such incidents contribute to the ongoing humanitarian crisis and underscore the urgent need for international attention and intervention to address the escalating conflict in Ukraine.

We do not consider alternatives to American support – Zelenskyy

We do not consider alternatives to American support – Zelenskyy

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, during a briefing after talks with US Vice President Kamala Harris at the Munich Security Conference, addressed the importance of the military aid package awaiting approval in the US Congress for Ukraine. Responding to questions from journalists about whether the delay in the aid package is considered a "betrayal," Zelenskyy emphasized that Ukraine does not consider any alternatives to US assistance and is counting on the positive decision of Congress.

Zelenskyy stated, "This package is vital for us. We are not considering alternatives today because we count on the United States as our strategic partner and that it will remain a strategic partner." He went on to express his belief that the United States, as a strategic partner, cannot afford to support Ukraine despite challenges such as electoral and political factors.

While acknowledging challenges and internal processes in the United States, Zelenskyy expressed hope that the allied position would remain strong. He emphasized that the aid funds included in the project are significant but do not alone open the "path to victory." Zelenskyy highlighted the importance of factors such as the morale of the Ukrainian military, the resilience of ordinary Ukrainians, sanctions against Russia, and support from other allies.

In summary, Zelenskyy underlined the critical nature of the aid package from the United States while emphasizing that it is part of a broader effort, including daily work, sanctions, and support from allies, contributing to Ukraine's path forward in the ongoing conflict.