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Ukraine says it has finally stopped Russia’s advance west of Avdiivka

The Ukrainian military said its forces halted a Russian advance outside Avdiivka, an eastern town in Ukraine captured by Russia last month.

Although Vladimir Putin’s forces took control of two more villages, their advance near Avdiivka was halted for now, Ukrainian military spokesperson Dmytro Lykhoviy said.

"We are saying that in this hottest sector of the direct Russian assault, we are managing to stabilise the situation and the enemy’s advance has been halted," the spokesperson said, speaking on national television.

The intensity of the attacks around villages west of Avdiivka has surged, Mr Lykhoviy said.

At least 30 assaults were reported in the area on Sunday, compared to 20 near Avdiivka itself, the Ukrainian official said.

"But our defence is holding. The enemy is expending tremendous efforts but making no headway at all,” the official said.

Russia is now pushing more resources further south, around the village of Novomykhailivka, as they were “transferring reinforcements from the depths of Russia”, he said.

Troop buildups have been seen near the villages of Novoselivka, Berdychi, Tonenke, Pervomaiske and Nevelske, reported The Kyiv Independent, citing Mr Lykhoviy.

He said the Ukrainian military was doing its job and “inflicting significant losses on the enemy”.

In Moscow, the Russian defence ministry said that its forces had “as a result of coordinated action continued to occupy more advantageous positions” near Avdiivka but did not refer to any offensive near Novomykhailivka.

After fighting more than a year long battle for Ukrainian cities Bakhmut and Avdiivka, Russia is now bolstering its offensive to capture Novomykhailivka village near Marinka.

The village is now one of the hottest areas on the war frontline, the official said.

According to the US-based think tank The Institute for the Study of War monitoring the offensive, “Russian milbloggers (military bloggers) claimed that Ukrainian forces only maintain positions in western Novomykhailivka and that fighting continues in the area”.

It added that the Russian forces advanced west of Avdiivka amid continued fighting in the area on 4 March. Last week, the Russian defence ministry said its forces had captured new villages outside Avdiivka.

After Mr Putin’s initial target of seizing Kyiv in “under three days” in a covert early morning invasion failed in February 2022, his troops have now spent more than two years attempting to secure control of a portion of eastern Ukraine.