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Russian army announces new Donbass gains

The village of Tonenkoye, located to the northwest of Avdeevka, has been liberated according to the Defense Ministry

Moscow’s forces have liberated the village of Tonenkoye in Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), the Russian Defense Ministry announced on Thursday. Tonenkoye has seen intense combat over the past few weeks, following the taking of the key Russia’s Donbass town of Avdeevka mid-February.

The village forms part of the Orlovka-Tonenkoye-Berdychi line, located to the northwest of the town. Over the past 24-hour period, Ukrainian forces have lost over 320 soldiers, a tank, four other armored and up to seven unarmored vehicles, according to Moscow’s estimates.

Earlier this week, the Russian military announced the liberation of Orlovka, effectively cutting the line in half and disrupting Ukrainian communications between Tonenkoye and Berdychi, with the latter continuing to see active combat.

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The Ukrainian military has claimed it established stable defensive positions along the Orlovka-Tonenkoye-Berdychi line following the fall of Avdeevka. The defenses are primarily based on a system of ponds and canals stretching along the three villages.

Nevertheless, the combat situation along the line has promptly escalated, with the Ukrainians actively pouring reserves into the area, seeking to stabilize the front line. According to the Russian side, Kiev’s forces have been losing some 400 soldiers in the area daily, after repeatedly staging unsuccessful counterattacks.

The Orlovka-Tonenkoye-Berdychi line has seen the combat debut of US-supplied M1 Abrams tanks, which had long remained in reserve. A batch of 31 tanks was pledged to Kiev by the Pentagon early last year for a long-hyped yet ultimately disastrous summer counteroffensive. The tanks fully arrived in Ukraine only in mid-autumn, by which time the push was largely over. Prior to the fall of Avdeevka, the tanks had stayed away from the front line, starring in Ukrainian propaganda videos rather than participating in actual combat. At least four tanks of the type have been destroyed since late February, according to the Russian military.

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