Nine months after the fall of Bakhmut another bombed-out eastern town is the subject of a scorched-earth battle between Russia and Ukraine.

Russia has been trying to conquer Avdiivka since 2014.

In the run-up to the second anniversary of the war and presidential elections in Russia, Moscow's forces have stepped up their assault on the town, which had a pre-war population of around 33,000, of whom only around 950 remain.


Armed with billions of dollars in Western weapons, Ukraine's long-awaited counteroffensive finally got under way in the east in June 2023.

But the sprawling 1,000-kilometre frontline has barely budged, with Ukraine failing to punch a hole through Russia's defences.

With no end to the war in sight, Republican lawmakers in the US have blocked new aid to Ukraine but European Union leaders have just approved a new 50-billion-euro package of assistance.


Ukraine's armed forces are desperate for more soldiers to boost their dwindling ranks and reprieve exhausted frontline troops.

The military says it needs up to half a million people.

But Ukrainians are increasingly unwilling to put their lives on the line.

A controversial bill making its way through parliament contains stiffer penalties for draft dodgers and lowers the age of service.


The title of one of Russia's big patriotic tunes, by Kremlin-backed popstar Shaman.

The blond singer performed the tune, which celebrates being Russian "in spite of the world", for troops in Mariupol and also headlined a concert in Moscow to celebrate Russia's annexation of four Ukrainian territories.

Jailed opposition politician Alexei Navalny complained recently of being forced to listen to "I am Russian" every day in prison.


Ukrainians' nickname for the buzzing Iranian-made attack drones that Russia regularly launches in waves at Kyiv and other cities.

On land and sea, drones have become a defining feature of the war, with Moscow and Kyiv both racing to develop new, more powerful models for reconnaissance, attacks or intercepting the enemy's fleet.

"This war will be won thanks to drones," Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine's minister of digital transformation, told AFP in November.


US-made Patriot missile defence systems have been a game changer for Ukraine, helping it intercept large numbers of missiles and killer drones fired at its cities.

Kyiv has even used them to take down hypersonic Kinzhal missiles, which the Kremlin had dubbed "invincible".

Pleading last month for more Patriots, Zelensky said that without them, Ukraine would find it "impossible to survive".


The Russian paramilitary group has been reeling since its leader Yevgeny Prigozhin was killed in a mystery plane crash in August after leading a mutiny against Moscow's military leadership.

With its mission given to other groups and commanders, the mercenary group, which led Russia's successful campaign to capture the eastern town of Bakhmut, is only a shadow of its former self.


The man credited with the Ukrainian army's stunning success in holding out against a vastly more powerful Russian military, the armed forces' popular commander-in-chief Valery Zaluzhny has just been fired.

Zelensky removed the so-called "iron general" from his post over last year's failed counteroffensive, saying "urgent changes" were needed.

The general had been in Zelensky's sights since saying that the conflict had reached a "stalemate", which Zelensky denies.