1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Ukraine updates: Russia attacks Avdiivka en masse — mayor

Published February 8, 2024last updated February 8, 2024

Russian forces are said to be pouring toward the industrial town of Avdiivka in significant numbers. Meanwhile, Russia has barred an anti-war candidate from the March presidential election. DW has the latest.

A member of the Ukrainian White Angels Special Police Team looks at debris of a residential building
The fight for Avdiivka has been going on since 2014 when it was briefly seized by RussiaImage: Genya Savilov/AFP
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

The mayor of the frontline Ukrainian town of Avdiivka says Russian forces are storming it from all directions and in large numbers. 

Moscow has put much of its resources into capturing the industrial hub.

Avdiivka has been a frontline city since 2014, and its capture would mark the first real change along the frontline in months. 

In other news, Russian officials have blocked pro-peace politician Boris Nadezhdin from next month's presidential election.  

Here's a look at the latest developments in Russia's war in Ukraine on Thursday, February 8:

Skip next section Ukraine and Russia exchange prisoners of war
February 8, 2024

Ukraine and Russia exchange prisoners of war

Ukraine has returned 100 prisoners from Russian captivity, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Twitter.

"Another 100 Ukrainians are back home in Ukraine. National Guard, Border Guards, and Armed Forces. The majority of them are Mariupol defenders," he wrote.

Meanwhile, Russia also said it had secured the release of 100 of its prisoners of war. Russian Defense Ministry said its men would be brought to Moscow for rehabilitation in military medical centers.  

Last month, Russia accused Ukraine of shooting down a military plane carrying 65 of its own soldiers, with Moscow saying they were set to be freed in a prisoner swap but providing little evidence they were on board.

Skip next section Top general Valerii Zaluzhnyi removed from post
February 8, 2024

Top general Valerii Zaluzhnyi removed from post

Ukrainian commander-in-chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi has been removed from his position, Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov said Thursday. 

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy later said he had appointed Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, the commander of Ukraine's ground forces, to lead the army.

On social media, Zelenskyy wrote that he had a meeting with Zaluzhnyi and told him that it was time for someone new to lead the army. He had asked the general to remain "on his team," Zelenskyy added.

In his own statement, Zaluzhnyi said he had had an "important and serious conversation" with Zelenskyy and that a decision had been made to change battlefield tactics and strategy.

Skip next section UN demands Russia halt 'forcible transfer' of Ukrainian children
February 8, 2024

UN demands Russia halt 'forcible transfer' of Ukrainian children

Russia must stop the forcible transfer of children from Ukraine, provide information about those already taken and ensure they are returned home, a UN committee has said.

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, a panel of 18 independent experts, pressed Russia on the deportation allegations during a regular review of its record last month.

In their conclusions, the experts urged Russia to "put an end to the forcible transfer or deportation of children from occupied Ukrainian territory."

The experts also demanded that Moscow "provide information about the precise number of children taken from Ukraine and about whereabouts of each child."

Ukraine says 20,000 children have been forcibly transferred to Russia since war broke out in February. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called it "genocide." Russia denies the allegations.

Getting Ukrainian children back from Russia

Skip next section Where Avdiivka is related to the front line in Ukraine
February 8, 2024

Where Avdiivka is related to the front line in Ukraine

The roughly 1,500-kilometer (930-mile) line of contact has shifted little during recent months of wintry weather. But as the two-year anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion approaches, Moscow is launching concerted efforts to capture territory.

Skip next section Scholz urges more Ukraine aid ahead of White House meeting
February 8, 2024

Scholz urges more Ukraine aid ahead of White House meeting

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz made an urgent plea for more military aid to Ukraine and warned of the dire consequences of a Russian victory, shortly before leaving for Washington.

In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Scholz warned Ukraine's allies against reducing military support for the embattled country, which has been fighting a full-scale Russian invasion for nearly two years.

"Our message is clear: We have to do our utmost to prevent Russia from winning. If we don't, we might soon wake up in a world even more unstable, threatening and unpredictable than it was during the Cold War," Scholz wrote.

"Despite our support, Ukraine could soon face serious shortages in arms and ammunition. Some financial commitments have already run out, and others need to be extended. The long-term consequences and costs of failing to stop Putin's aggression would dwarf any of the investments that we are making now," he warned.

Scholz's is scheduled to meet with US Presdient Joe Biden at the White House on Friday to discuss military aid for Ukraine, the conflict in the Middle East and the NATO summit this summer. He also plans to meet with members of the US Congress and US business leaders.

US Congress still deadlocked over funding for Ukraine

Skip next section Russia's Rosneft warns Germany against expropriation
February 8, 2024

Russia's Rosneft warns Germany against expropriation

Russian oil giant Rosneft says it has been told that Germany's Economy Ministry is considering expropriating shares in the business. 

The Reuters news agency on Wednesday reported that Berlin was preparing for a possible nationalization of Rosneft's German activities, including its 54.17% stake in Berlin's Schwedt refinery.

However, while the government is reportedly laying the groundwork, it is not yet believed to have made a final decision.

German officials put the refinery under a trusteeship in September 2022 in light of Russia's fully-fledged invasion of Ukraine.

Rosneft has said it will adopt all measures to protect the rights of its shareholders, adding that such an expropriation would be unprecedented in Germany and would damage investment security in the country forever.

Skip next section Russian anti-war candidate barred from taking on Putin
February 8, 2024

Russian anti-war candidate barred from taking on Putin

The Central Election Commission of Russia has rejected the presidential candidacy of liberal opposition figure and anti-war activist Boris Nadezhdin

The commission justified its decision on Thursday, citing a large number of incorrect signatures from supporters. 
Along with Russian President Vladimir Putin, three other candidates will be running in the election, although they are seen as having no chance of defeating the incumbent.

Another full six-year term for Putin, who first became president in the year 2000, would extend his rule into the 2030s. 

The 60-year-old Nadezhdin had been seen as the best hope for the opposition. He plans on challenging the commission's decision in the Supreme Court.

Nadezhdin obtained significantly more signatures than the required 100,000.
From a random sample of 60,000 signatures, the commission said 9,147 were declared invalid. 

Putin challenger Nadezhdin gathers support

Skip next section Russian forces storm Ukraine's Avdiivka 'with very large forces'
February 8, 2024

Russian forces storm Ukraine's Avdiivka 'with very large forces'

Moscow's troops are pushing en masse toward the frontline town of Avdiivka, according to the local mayor, intensifying their monthslong effort to seize the industrial center.

Russia has invested heavily in capturing the town, which has been a flashpoint since it briefly fell to Kremlin-backed separatists in 2014.

"Unfortunately, the enemy is pressing from all directions. There is not a single part of our city that is more or less calm," mayor Vitaly Barabash told state media.

"They are storming with very large forces," he added.

Seizing Avdiivka would represent a much-needed victory for Russia in the run-up to the second anniversary of its full-scale invasion of Ukraine and the March presidential election.

Fewer than 950 people from an estimated pre-war population of some 33,000 remain in Avdiivka, a town dominated by a huge coking plant. 

The town sits in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region, which the Kremlin claims as part of Russia, along with four other Ukrainian regions that Moscow claims it has annexed. 

Barabash described the fighting as "very hot" and "very difficult."

"The situation in some directions is simply unreal," he said.

Ukraine's armed forces reported Thursday that its troops had fended off 40 enemy assaults around Avdiivka over the previous 24 hours.

On the front line with Ukrainian drone pilots

rc/kb (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)