February 20, 2024

Russian President Vladimir Putin:  Congratulates Defense Minister Shoigu on the capture of Avdiivka

Russian Defense Ministry

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Shoigu, all of us – you, me, and the Chief of the General Staff [Valery Gerasimov] left these rooms early in the morning, at 4 am on February 17. You reported then that the situation in the Avdeyevka direction was developing fast – you even said in a sweeping way – and that we should see what would happen in the next few hours. You limited yourself to this statement and this was probably right. You reported with caution.

As far as I understand, and as Mr Mordvichev reported the day before yesterday, at 6–7 am, our adversary began a chaotic withdrawal from this settlement. And, was it at 11 am? …you were back here again with the Chief of the General Staff and reported on a chaotic rout of the enemy from Avdeyevka. As I recall, by that time Ukrainian Armed Forces command had issued an order on the withdrawal of their troops when they were already moving and leaving this residential area.

I believe this was done for political considerations – to cover up a retreat and make it look like an organised withdrawal. We saw it and we know that this wasn’t the case, that these troops were actually fleeing in the literal sense of the word. As I said, Mr Mordvichev reported to me the day before yesterday on what was happening at that time.

I would like to hear your evaluation of what is taking place now.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu: Mr President, I will start by saying that reports were delivered on a regular basis. Almost ten days ago, you had a conversation with the commander of the assault group and the Veterans volunteer unit, who, in our opinion, carried out a unique operation using a pipeline to get to southern Avdeyevka deep behind the enemy lines – almost 3.5 kilometres – and established a rather large foothold there, which other troops linked up with three days later. The operation was a success.

With regard to the current situation, this colour [on the map] represents the state of things as of the time of our report to you that the enemy began to retreat, or rather flee, from Avdeyevka. This is Avdeyevka itself. By the time of our report to you at 11 am, this area was practically liberated. Further on, active movements by all forces and the Aerospace Forces started, or rather, continued. As of the time of our report to you at 11 am, Koksokhim [the Avdeyevka coke and chemical plant] had not been liberated. Koksokhim is now liberated, and we are headed westward towards this settlement, moving from the south and the southwest. The troops are still operating along the front line, the effort is ongoing, and the mission assignments are being carried out.

Regarding the orders to withdraw the troops in an organised manner, we began working on this practically two months ago. A variety of weapons were used, and the strikes and the movement of enemy troops were recorded during the day and at night. So, we have on tape everything that happened within the enemy lines that night and the night after. The only reason we did this was to know, first, the location of the targets to avoid hitting empty areas, to deal specific, precise strikes. 

We launched about 460 such strikes during the last 24 hours before the enemy left Avdeyevka. These were really high-precision strikes. Speaking in terms of tonnes and kilogrammes, about 200 tonnes hit the targets daily.

In other respects, the troops remain active. We reported to you that we used that same pipeline again and came out here. So, we had our troops here, and the enemy was there. All of that area is now surrounded, and it is a done deal. As the enemy retreated, they left behind many wounded soldiers who became our POWs because they simply were unable to move.

A lot of weapons were left behind as well, a lot of firearms, many ATGMs and MANPADs. All of that is being collected. A sweeping demining effort is underway. A lot has been left behind. Since they retreated in a hasty and chaotic manner, there are no sites that have been mined on purpose.

Mr President, here is what I would like to draw your attention to. It took them nine years to build this fortified area. For nine years, day after day, underground passages, concrete structures and special lines were built to make sure they could move around without having to show up above ground.

So, the fact that we overpowered the enemy here is a big success for the combined group of forces, units, and formations, everyone without exception. By all means, the Aerospace Forces and the army aviation, assault aviation deserve mention. Much depended on whether we would give the enemy any respite from our attacks.

Vladimir Putin: You recalled the Veterans unit. All military units, all military personnel deserve the highest decorations, incentives, words of gratitude, of course, on behalf of the country, on behalf of Russia, on behalf of our people. Clearly, all of them have acted courageously and heroically.

As for the Veterans, this is, of course, a special case. Their commander told me – he told me personally – that the diameter of that pipe was 1.1 m or 1.2 m. And they, big men, went through that pipe for more than three kilometres without knowing where to go. They got out of it in practically an unknown place, immediately captured 19 buildings and held out there for several days until they were reinforced. They suffered losses. But overall, this is, of course, a special page in military history, in the history of Russia defending its vital interests.

I would like to ask you to pay attention to them.

Have they been withdrawn from the zone? Are they taking a rest?

Sergei Shoigu: They are recovering now. They are taking a break and getting ready for future operations. Nobody doubts that they will return. I mean they have no doubts about this, and we certainly have none.

Vladimir Putin: Now about POWs. I know, and this has always been the way with us – during the special military operation, and now we must continue this practice as well – our attitude to prisoners must strictly conform to the relevant documents of international law and international conventions. This is how we have always acted. I know we have held them in a worthy manner. I would like you to stick to this practice. 

Now about the situation in Avdeyevka in general. This is a clear success. My congratulations to you. It is necessary to build on this success, this is also clear. But further action must be well planned and supported – properly manned, outfitted with weapons, equipment, and ammunition. We will discuss this separately. In fact, you and I talk about this every day. It seems to go without saying but nonetheless I would like to draw your attention to it.

There is one sector to which I would also like to draw your attention and discuss. I talked with Mikhail Teplinsky the day before yesterday. He reported to me about the village of Krynki on the left bank of the Dnieper. If you recall, this question was even asked during my Direct Line. I said then that I did not understand why the adversary was doing that to its own people, why it was sending them practically to certain death there and treating them as if they were not its own people at all. 

Mr Teplinsky reported that this locality on the left bank of the Dnieper River is practically – not practically, but completely – under our control. The necessary defensive lines have been built there. He told me there were four to five soldiers hiding out there. They are encouraged to surrender, and those who do are taken prisoner. But three or four people, he said, are still holed up in the woodland or the dugouts.

I am aware of his assessment, and I would like to hear what you have to say about what is going on in that area.

Sergei Shoigu: Mr President, I am aware of the report by Colonel-General Teplinsky. I confirm his report. It is indeed so. The village of Krynki has been cleared. We have effectively taken up positions along the entire length of the Krynka and Konka rivers. Today, what we have there is not just observation posts. We have troops stationed there.

The paratroopers and the 810th Naval Infantry Brigade did very well.

Vladimir Putin: Marines.

Sergei Shoigu: Correct. You know the commander of the brigade. You have met with him, talked to him several times, and thanked him for his proactive actions in other sectors of the contact line. Here, they are acting just as proactively and effectively.

This part of the work has been completed, Mr President, but I would not want our colleagues to think that Krynki is just a small and inconsequential village where things were slow.

As a reminder, the Dnieper grouping started operating in the Kherson direction last summer when the enemy was plotting a major breakthrough here in order to block the roads leading to Crimea. Back then, a decision was made to build a triple defensive line here. It is not shown here, it is on a different map.

So, Mr President, we left no stone unturned to make sure this work is completed on time. Next, we launched active defensive operations and grinded down enemy forces on a daily basis.

From last summer to the present day, the enemy has lost almost 3,500 troops there, 3,400. Speaking specifically about the village of Krynki, it was designated as a focal point of the main breakthrough effort, and four brigades of the enemy’s 30th Marine Corps were massed there. These were well-equipped, well-trained, rested, and fully staffed units, which were supposed to break through across the Dnieper and create a foothold for further advances and deployment of forces.

The forces that were concentrated there prevented this from happening, they fulfilled their mission.

So, the only thing I can say is that the correct actions of the command thwarted daring enemy operations in Avdeyevka. It was consistent daily work that allowed us to hold and to prevent the enemy from expanding the foothold. It was a hard mission to accomplish because the shelling from the other bank continued nonstop, artillery fired shells relentlessly, and the FPV drones and UAVs were quite active.

Share the Post: