Ukraine repels Russian attacks but situation is difficult, top general says

FILE PHOTO: Ukraine's President Zelenskiy attends a meeting with newly appointed top military commanders in Kyiv

KYIV (Reuters) -Ukrainian forces have pushed back Russian troops from the village of Orlivka, west of Avdiivka, but the situation on the eastern front remains difficult, Ukrainian army chief Oleksandr Syrskyi said on Thursday.

Orlivka is less than 2 kilometres (1-1/2 miles) northwest of Lastochkyne, which was occupied this week by Russian forces.

Russian forces last week captured the eastern Ukrainian city of Avdiivka after a months-long assault and are pressing on other areas along the front line, Ukrainian authorities say.

Ukraine's military said this week it had withdrawn from two more villages near Avdiivka, losing more territory as support from its Western allies runs short.

"The enemy continues active offensive actions in many areas of the front line. The situation is particularly tense in the Avdiivka and Zaporizhzhia sectors," Syrskyi said on the Telegram messaging app.

He said Russian assault units were trying to break through the Ukrainian defences and capture the settlements of Tonenke, Orlivka, Semenivka, Berdychi and Krasnohorivka.

Syrskyi, who visited troops on the eastern front, said some commanders had revealed certain shortcomings in their "situational awareness and assessment of the enemy", which affected the sustainability of defence in certain areas.

"I took all measures to remedy the situation on the ground, with the allocation of additional ammunition and material resources, as well as the necessary reserves," Syrskyi said.

Russia's Defence Ministry, in its daily account of front-line activity, said its forces had secured more advantageous positions in the Avdiivka sector and inflicted losses on Ukrainian units around Orlivka and nearby villages.

Reuters was unable to verify accounts from either side.

A Ukrainian commander in the area described a "significant difference" in fighting since Avdiivka changed hands.

"Russians have slightly fewer opportunities to engage aviation. But artillery and FPV (First Person View) drones are used in large quantities," Maksym Zhorin, deputy commander of the Third Separate Assault Brigade, wrote on Telegram.

"Beneath all this, there is a frenzy of infantry. Sometimes we observe groups of up to 40 people running through a field in a seemingly disorganised manner."

The Third Brigade, in a separate posting, said its forces had pushed into the town of Krasnohorivka on armoured vehicles and forced dozens of Russian troops to flee.

"The enemy had no intention of retreating and clung to every building," the report said. "The Russians were driven out of them by using force, bullets and grenades."

Ukraine's military and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy have said that troops lack equipment and ammunition needed to repel Russian attacks because of a shortage of Western aid.

Zelenskiy, posting on the social media platform X, said Ukraine's air defences had enjoyed success in February, downing 13 planes, including 10 Su-34 and two Su-35 fighters and an A-50 surveillance aircraft.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk and Ron Popeski; Editing by Toby Chopra and Bill Berkrot)