"The head of state congratulated the Russian troops on this success, on an important victory," the Kremlin website said.

Moscow said its army inflicted a series of defeats on Ukrainian forces along the thousand-kilometer front line as Ukrainian troops withdrew from Avdiivka.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Russian forces made advances against Ukrainian troops along the front lines in a number of different directions.

Both Russian and Ukrainian officials say that thousands of people have been killed in the battle of Avdiivka, although neither side reports any casualty figures.

The Russian takeover of Avdiivka, known as the gateway to the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, after Ukrainian forces abandoned the town, was Russia's biggest victory since it captured Bahmut in May 2023. 

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However, just like in Bahmut, almost not a single building remains intact in Avdiivka, and the fighting in the devastated city has cost thousands of lives.

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Ukrainian troops are withdrawing from Avdiivka after four months of resistance.

Why is Avdiivka important?

With a pre-war population of around 32,000, the town, called Avdeyevka by the Russians, was briefly seized in 2014 by Moscow-backed separatists who had seized territory in eastern Ukraine, but was retaken by Ukrainian troops who built extensive fortifications.

The city, 15 kilometers north of the Russian-occupied city of Donetsk, lies in the industrial Donbas region and is seen as key to Russia's goal of gaining full control of the two eastern "Donbas" provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk. These are among four Ukrainian regions that Russia says it has annexed but does not fully control.

The city, which was home to one of Europe's largest coke factories before the war, is crucial for Russia's strategic advance, according to pro-Russian experts.

Experts also say that time will tell whether the city changed hands after the Russians seized it or after the Ukrainians withdrew.