Avdiivka Coke and Chemical Plant
© Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via APThis photo taken from video released by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024, shows an aerial view of the Avdiivka Coke and Chemical Plant, eastern Ukraine. Russian forces have taken complete control of the Ukrainian city of Avdiivka. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told the Kremlin on Saturday that Russian forces were now working to clear the final pockets of resistance at the Avdiivka Coke and Chemical Plant, officials said in a statement.
Russian troops have captured the strategically important Avdeevka Coke and Chemical plant, the Defense Ministry in Moscow has said. Ukrainian troops had occupied the complex and turned it into a heavily fortified launchpad for attacks on the city of Donetsk. Kiev's forces in the area are in a headlong rout, the ministry added.

In a statement on Sunday, the ministry said that Russia's 'Center' group of troops had taken "full control" of the facility located on the northern outskirts of the city. "Russian flags have been hoisted on the administrative buildings of the plant. Units of the Ukrainian armed forces continued their disorderly retreat," officials said.

The ministry also shared aerial footage of intense fighting in the area, with multiple explosions taking place around the plant as several adjacent buildings came under artillery fire.

The plant was Ukraine's largest coke producer, before the start of the conflict in February 2022. The facility later became a linchpin in Kiev's defense system in the area, boasting formidable fortifications. As the fighting progressed, the plant itself was almost completely destroyed.

The Defense Ministry also said that as Russian troops continued their advance in the Avdeevka area, only a few disorganized Ukrainian units managed to make it out of the city, leaving their military equipment behind. Other footage shown by the ministry depicts what appears to be several military vehicles abandoned by Ukrainian troops during the retreat.

At the moment, Moscow's forces "are carrying out actions aimed at clearing Avdeevka of militants of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and blocking their units," officials added.

Moscow announced the capture of Avdeevka on Saturday, stating that around 1,500 Ukrainian troops had been killed during the retreat. Media reports and Ukrainian military commanders painted a grim picture of the fighting in the area, saying that some of Kiev's units had been encircled and that the military in the area had to abandon some of their badly wounded comrades.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky confirmed the withdrawal from the former stronghold, describing the decision as "absolutely logical" and insisting that Kiev was trying to save the lives of its soldiers.

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden blamed the Ukrainian retreat on the Republican failure to approve new aid to Kiev which has left Ukraine suffering from a lack of military supplies. The GOP has been reluctant to support the measure, demanding that the White House do more to enhance security on the southern US border.