© The Russian Defense Ministry
Ukrainian forces began fleeing the key Donbass town of Avdeevka in disarray a day before actually receiving an order to do so from Kiev's freshly-appointed top general, Aleksandr Syrsky, the Russian Defense Ministry claimed on Sunday.

The Russian military released drone footage on Sunday, purporting to show a chaotic rout of Ukrainian forces, which it claims was taken before Kiev gave the order to retreat. The footage features large groups of soldiers trying to escape the town on foot and leaving behind heavy equipment to boost their chances of survival.

Retreating troops were subjected to artillery shelling, and, apparently, air strikes, footage released by the Russian military shows. Multiple destroyed and damaged Ukrainian military vehicles can be seen in the videos released by the defense ministry.

Those trying to flee Avdeevka in armor were also targeted by Russian strikes. Footage released by the military shows a Ukrainian BMP-family infantry fighting vehicle struck by a suicide drone while slowly crawling away from the town off-road.

Russian forces liberated the key town of Avdeevka on Saturday, inflicting heavy casualties on Ukrainian troops, reportedly reaching up to 1,500 in a single day. The Ukrainian command, however, has insisted the rout was actually an organized retreat on the order of Syrsky. Moscow has disputed the claim, stating that Ukrainian forces began fleeing the town a day before the order was actually issued.

Avdeevka, located several kilometres to the north of Donetsk, has been a major stronghold for Ukrainian troops in Donbass, as well as one of the key staging points for repeated artillery and missile strikes on the Russian city. The town has seen intense combat in recent months, with Russian forces concentrating their effort at dislodging the Ukrainian forces from their positions, which have been turned into heavily reinforced fortresses over years of conflict, since Kiev's troops occupied the city in 2014.