A Russian offensive operation near Avdiivka, Ukraine resulted in two confirmed civilian deaths on Sunday, as reported by the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The offensive is entering its sixth day. In a further statement from Vitaliy Barabash, head of the Avdiivka military administration, Russia is attacking the town via “air, artillery and large numbers of troops.” The operation is one of the largest since Ukraine launched its counteroffensive efforts.
According to a campaign assessment provided by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), there is disagreement about the prospect of Russian success and Ukrainian capabilities. ISW reports that Ukrainian forces are continuing counteroffensive operations in Eastern and Southern Ukraine. It also reports that Ukrainian forces advanced west of Donetsk. The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine says that it had responded to Russian attacks in over 15 settlements, including Ocheretyne, Lastochkyne, Avdiivka, Pervomais’ke, and Nevel’s’le (Donetsk Oblast). Ukraine emphasized that these attacks targeted areas and towns populated by civilians.
International humanitarian law prohibits harm against civilians during times of armed conflict. The Geneva Convention notably sets out that protected persons, including civilians, are protected from torture and violence. Therefore, any violence, torture, or killing of civilians constitute as war crimes under international humanitarian laws. Russia is currently being investigated for several other instances of civilian violence. The UN recently opened an investigation into a Russian airstrike on Kharkiv, which resulted in at least 51 civilian causalities and is being labelled one of the deadliest attacks since the start of the invasion.