More evidence has emerged this week that Russia is poised to soon solidify hold over all of the Donetsk region, in yet more bad news for Ukraine, after its struggled to make any gains at all for the last six months.
Newly published military maps show that Russian forces are in the midst of a large pincer move involving some 40,000 troops closing in on the key city of Avdiivka, which has long been a Moscow objective since the war's start.
Ukraine's military has acknowledged this week: "They are building up reserves. They’ve brought in about 40,000 men here along with ammunition of all calibers."
According to more of the statement issued by Anton Kotsukon, spokesman for Ukraine's 110th mechanized brigade, "We see no sign of the Russians abandoning plans to encircle Avdiivka."
Further, Kotsukon described that "Russian troops have surrounded Avdiivka on three sides and were playing cat and mouse and sending up huge numbers of drones to analyze Kyiv's defenses," according to a summary of his briefing.
For Ukraine, the city is seen as a strategic hoped-for future gateway to launch operations to recapture territory in the east, but that prospect is clearly slipping.
Washington-based think tank The Institute for the Study of War has published a fresh map showing the encirclement in progress:
The town had over 32,000 residents before the war, but now could be down to less than 2,000 - according to media estimates.
While the "four territories" of the east and south have already been annexed, incorporated into the Russian federation, there are still areas not completely under Russian control yet. All of his is a key war aim of President Putin's.