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HomenewsRussian defence minister visits Ukrainian front amid winter preparations

Russian defence minister visits Ukrainian front amid winter preparations

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has visited a command post near the front lines in eastern Ukraine as fighting in the region intensifies in advance of the harsh winter season.

He travelled to the “Vostok” command post in the east to be briefed on developments at the front as Russian forces stepped up attacks, according to footage posted by the Ministry of Defence on Wednesday.

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The minister was briefed on preparations for combat for the forthcoming winter and the training of drone operators, the Ministry of Defence said, according to AFP.

“The situation today suggests the enemy has fewer and fewer opportunities. And they will continue to be reduced, thanks exclusively to your combat work,” Shoigu told Russian soldiers as he sought to raise morale.

The Ministry of Defence, whose video showed Shoigu arriving at the post via helicopter, added that the minister “drew special attention to the timely and sufficient provision of new winter uniforms and insulated footwear for all personnel” before winter, when temperatures plunge below freezing.

Heavy losses

Shoigou’s visit comes as Russia stepped up attacks in eastern Ukraine, hammering the city of Avdiivka with air and artillery attacks.

Ukrainian officials claim that Moscow’s forces have suffered heavy bloodshed, losing thousands of troops in less than a week.

“The enemy is persistently trying to surround the city and is throwing in new forces from the north and south,” Vitaliy Barabash, head of Avdiivka’s military administration, told Ukrainian television on Tuesday.

“For two days, they have been operating mostly in small groups, trying to find cracks in our defence, but without success. The defence line is holding.”

Further east in Crimea, Ukraine also claims to have been making inroads despite struggling to progress its counteroffensive.

Overnight raids

Russia, meanwhile, has continued its assault on the southeastern Kherson region. The bombing killed one person early on Wednesday after four people were injured on Tuesday. Ukrainian authorities have recently ruled that families with children must evacuate the region.

Sixteen people were injured in a Russian drone attack in the western Khmelnytskyi region late on Tuesday night, a local official said

Critical infrastructure was damaged, a local official reported, without offering details. Khmelnytskyi is home to a Ukrainian military airfield.

“In Shepetivka district, as a result of the downing of enemy aerial targets, they crashed on the territory of a critical infrastructure facility,” a senior official in the Khmelnytskyi region, Sehiy Tiurin, said on the Telegram messaging app.

The Ukrainian military said its air forces had taken out all 11 Russian drones.

It has been months since either Russia or Ukraine made a significant territorial gain in the 20-month conflict, as losses continue to mount. Analysts say the conflict is approaching a winter deadlock.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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