Russia’s biggest offensive in months involving tanks, thousands of soldiers and armored vehicles in an assault on the eastern Ukrainian city of Avdiivka is failing, a top Ukrainian commander has said. difficult”.
Over the past week, Russian forces have attacked the city, a key enclave on the eastern Donbass front surrounded by Russian-held territory. It was one of Moscow’s biggest attacks since last year’s full-scale invasion, and Ukraine’s counteroffensive is moving slowly, and the world is focused on the imminent Israeli invasion of Gaza.
At least three Russian battalions, each Supported by 2,000-3,000 troopsThe attack began at dawn on Tuesday. Drone footage It showed a line of military vehicles moving forward. Since then, fierce fighting has been going on. Russia bombarded the city with relentless artillery and airstrikes.
Ukrainian military officials say Moscow’s goal is to encircle Avdiivka, but so far the attackers have had modest successes. Russia’s 25th Combined Arms Army pushed forward from the south and north. It engulfed the nearby village of Berdichi and covered a 150-metre-high pile of slag next to the town’s coke and chemical factory.
The Russians suffered heavy losses. At least 36 Russian tanks and armored vehicles were destroyed in the first 24 hours. As stated therein Kyiv Post, that number was 102 tanks and 183 armored vehicles lost, with 2,840 troops killed. There were disturbing scenes. A tank fell from a pontoon bridge into the river. Another Russian soldier was crushed upside down by it; A Ukrainian munition detonated it.
Col Dmytro Lysyuk – Commander 128th Separate Mountain Assault Brigade of Ukraine – He believed that the possibility of the Russian army breaking through was zero. He said sending a long military force into battle would not work, a tactic used when Russian forces tried to seize Kyiv last year and the eastern city of Wuhleder in February.
“The Russians should have realized this a long time ago,” Lysyuk said. “They couldn’t even achieve a tactical victory.” He added that General Valery Gerasimov, the head of Russia’s General Staff, was responsible: Gerasimov underestimated Ukraine’s strength in Avdiivka, a frontline since 2014 when Moscow captured the nearby city of Donetsk. “It was an intelligence failure,” Lysyuk said.
A Russian battlefield victory would increase domestic support for the war. Lysyuk said the Kremlin’s political objective was to advance to the administrative borders of the Donetsk region. In September 2022, Vladimir Putin claimed to have “annexed” the entire eastern province, but his forces only controlled half of it. “They want to take it by the end of 2023. They won’t do it,” the colonel predicted. He added: “Given the scale of their losses, it’s a very obvious failure.”
Ukraine’s own counteroffensive in the southern Zaporizhzhia region, where the 128th Brigade is fighting, was tough, he acknowledged. “It’s very difficult to move forward,” he admitted. There were strong obstacles, he said. They include numerous landmines laid by Russia over the past 18 months; An extensive network of defensive trenches, dug in three lines; and kamikaze and first-person-view (FPV) drones.
The colonel said Ukraine had changed its tactics. Instead of deploying heavy armor vulnerable to air attack, his regiment used stealthy “small team” formations. It consisted of eight soldiers and a dozen strong evacuation squads, supported by precision fire. The group would attack enemy positions, sometimes taking out 40 Russians. “We are progressing 100-500 meters a day,” he said.
Since early June, Kiev has recaptured a small area south of the Ukrainian-held village of Origiv, Zaporizhia. Lysyuk said his forces were capable of going further and capturing occupied Tokmak – a major logistics and rail hub – as well as the city of Melitopol. He declined to say when this would happen. “It’s hard to predict. I would love to see Dogmac this year. We are creating conditions for future activities,” he said.
Lack of air transport is a hindrance. F-16s are based in the Netherlands, Denmark and Belgium Not likely to arrive anytime soon. Lysyuk said his brigade received Western anti-tank weapons, mortars and night vision equipment. It had not yet received modern battle tanks and fought the Soviet T-72 and 2S1 Self-propelled artillery units. The Russians are superior “in some areas,” he said, citing its manpower and its electronic warfare and spying equipment.
Lysyuk said his regiment is ready for the cold weather ahead. “We’ve already had a winter. The situation is difficult but not critical. We know what to do,” he said. Soldiers in the trenches are rotated more often — every two to four hours, as opposed to every six to eight hours — to shelters where they can keep warm. Ukraine has yet to advance. Success depends on “strategic” and “constantly changing” tactics that overwhelm the enemy, he said.
Pentagon officials Criticized Ukraine’s battlefield strategy and suggested that a large concentration of forces in one place could achieve quicker results. Lysyuk said he had to balance offensive operations with the need to protect the lives of his soldiers. “We think about casualties all the time. People are our most precious resource,” he said. He added: “We are fighting a formidable enemy. There is no quick success. We must not be under any illusion.”
Russian military bloggers Their forces are increasingly pessimistic about the possibility of capturing Avdivka. After initially making little ground, Russian troops quickly found themselves in pursuit as Ukraine responded with counter-battery fire. Said one blogger. “It’s not easy for troops to return to ‘offensive’ tactics after almost a year on the defensive,” they said, adding that Ukraine’s forces are trying to regain lost ground.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has praised the bravery of his country’s defenders. “Avdivka. We hold our ground,” Zelensky posted on social media. He shared pictures of soldiers walking around the ruined city. About 1,000 residents still live there – out of a pre-war population of 30,000 – despite incessant Russian attacks. “Ukrainian courage and unity will determine how this war ends,” Zelensky wrote.
In Video address recorded on Saturday, Zelenskiy described Avdiivka as one of many places on the frontline where “now it’s very hot”. “I thank all those who held their positions and destroyed the Russian troops. Every day of these battles are lives. Lives are being sacrificed for our country,” he said.