The Death Throes of a Ukrainian City

Even from a few miles away, the death rattle of another Ukrainian city echoed through the mist and fog. Russian warplanes were dropping more thousand-pound bombs on Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine, reducing an already battered city to rubble and ashes.

Since Jan. 1, President Vladimir V. Putin’s forces have dropped around one million pounds of aerial bombs on an area encompassing just 12 square miles, according to estimates by Ukrainian officials and British intelligence.

Avdiivka fell to the Russians on Saturday, after some of the most horrific and destructive fighting of the two-year-old war. In the end, Russia’s superior firepower and manpower overwhelmed Ukrainian forces over many months, even as Russia incurred a staggering number of casualties.

The Ukrainians withdrew under withering bombardment, fighting intense battles across ruined streets to break out of Russian attempts to encircle them. Russian warplanes bombed the hulking coke-processing plant on Avdiivka’s northern outskirts, using incendiary munitions to blow up fuel tanks at the plant, unleashing a toxic smog, according to Ukrainian soldiers fighting in the plant.

“Avdiivka is a constant barrage of aviation bombs,” Maksym Zhorin, deputy commander of the 3rd Special Assault Brigade, said on Friday.It feels like the largest number of air bombs on such a stretch of land in the entire history of humanity. These bombs completely obliterate any positions. All buildings, structures, after just one airstrike, turn into craters.”

Ihor Fir, a former mechanic at the Avdiivka coke processing plant, bringing food, water and medicine to refugees evacuated from the city because of Russia’s intense bombardment.

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