The Russian armed forces continued their deadly attacks around the eastern city of Avdiivka this week, but Ukrainian forces are holding on, said Col. Toomas Väli, deputy chief of operations at the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) General Staff.
"The situation in Ukraine has not changed dramatically in the last week, both are fighting very angry battles," said Väli at a weekly press conference held at the Ministry of Defense on Friday.
"Russian Federation troops attack from the direction of Kupiansk and Avdiivka. Around Avdiivka, it seems the level of Russian meat assaults is the same with 50-60 attacks per day," he continued.
Väli said the Russian troops are trying to encircle the city and not get stuck in urban fighting. It seems that Russia wants to surround Avdiivka before the end of the year, he noted.
At the same time, from the Ukrainian side, Avdiivka has been successfully protected since 2014. "Let's keep our fingers crossed that it continues," Väli said.
In recent days, Ukraine's daily reports show there has been a significant increase in the number of Russian casualties. While they were usually between 600-800, several days this week it was over 1,000 on serval days.
Ukraine's move to the left bank worries Moscow
Speaking about the activities of the Ukrainian forces, Väli highlighted the Ukrainian activities on the left bank of the Dnieper, in the Kherson region, where Ukrainian units have succeeded in crossing the river and connecting several different bridgeheads together.
"The action is taking place there and it seems that the situation there is making Russia very, very uneasy," he said.
One positive note is the start of training Ukrainian military pilots on F-16 fighter jets in Romania.
"The arrival of these fighters could change something [in the course of the war]. But you also have to bear in mind that training is a long process. It took Poland almost 10 years in peacetime to switch from Soviet-era fighters to Western aircraft," Väli said.
He also mentioned the mobilization protests in Russia as a source of hope. "Personally, I am keeping my fingers crossed for the people in the Russian Federation who have taken to the streets protesting about the unclear situation of the mobilized, how they will be rotated off the front and when they will come home," he said.
Commenting on the weather conditions in Ukraine, Väli said the rainy season and the muddying of the ground caused by it (rasputitsa) continues and there are no large maneuvers to be seen.
Editor: Mait Ots, Helen Wright