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Ukraine’s Army Chief names the number of Ukrainian POWs during Avdiivka withdrawal

Syrskyi said Russian forces captured 25 Ukrainian service members during the operation of withdrawal from Avdiivka.
Oleksandr Syrskyi
Oleksandr Syrskyi. Credit: Syrskyi/Telegram channel
Ukraine’s Army Chief names the number of Ukrainian POWs during Avdiivka withdrawal

Previously, Russian propaganda claimed about “hundreds” of Ukrainian POWs in Avidiivka but failed to show any videos with them except for individual cases. In particular, one of the videos confirmed that Russian forces executed six wounded Ukrainian POWs in Avdiivka. In a video published by Russian pro-war Telegram blogger WarGonzo from the captured Zenit position, relatives identified Ukrainian defenders.

In a recent interview with Ukrinform, the Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, General Colonel Oleksandr Syrskyi, discussed the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from Avdiivka along with other issues. Syrskyi was appointed to the position in February 2023.

Regarding the withdrawal from Avdiivka, Syrskyi explained that the decision was made due to the enemy’s significant advantage in forces and means of assault units. Constant bombardment with guided aerial bombs disrupted the integrity of Ukraine’s defense, allowing the enemy to advance gradually. The insufficient quantity of ammunition for Ukrainian artillery also played a negative role, hindering effective counter-battery combat. To avoid encirclement and save lives, Syrskyi decided to withdraw from Avdiivka.

During the withdrawal operation, 25 Ukrainian servicemen were taken prisoner by the Russians. Syrskyi assured that efforts are being made to liberate these soldiers from enemy captivity, with the involvement of the state leadership, the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense, and the Armed Forces command.

Surskyi also spoke about Russian losses. The Russian offensive on Avdiivka cost the enemy 47,186 personnel, 364 tanks, 748 armored combat vehicles, 248 artillery systems, and five aircraft in the Avdiivka direction from 10 October 2023 to 17 February 2024, according to Syrskyi.

Since the beginning of the Avdiivka defensive operation, the Ukrainian Defense Forces have taken 95 Russian occupiers prisoner in this direction, he added.

Regarding the mobilization efforts, Syrskyi stated that the recent audit within the military has allowed for the reallocation of thousands of service members who are not involved in combat operations to be redirected to combat units. He also said that the audit allowed to significantly reduce the previously announced need to mobilize an additional 500,000 troops, although the Ukrainian army indeed needs more troops to counter the increasing number of Russian soldiers attacking Ukraine.

Ukraine’s Army Chief Syrskyi: the need to mobilize 500,000 troops significantly reduced after audit

The recently published UN report revealed that 32 Ukrainian POWs were executed by Russian forces only this winter. The executions also involved physical and psychological torture. For example, one Ukrainian soldier was forced by the Russians to conduct demining work before execution. In another incident from mid-December in the same region, a Ukrainian POW was interrogated overnight in a basement by Russian troops. A witness reported that one of the Russian servicemen first shot the POW in the leg for allegedly “not speaking clearly” before then fatally shooting him twice in the back. Another report by the UN published earlier this month has also documented the widespread and systematic use of torture against Ukrainian POWs.

This winter, 32 Ukrainian POWs were executed by Russian forces, UN report reveals

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