A renewed Russian attempt to capture the town of Avdiivka was repelled and contained over the weekend, according to both Ukrainian and Russian sources, though Western analysts say Moscow continues to send extra forces to the area.
In his daily address on Sunday evening, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine's positions around the front-line town, in the eastern Donetsk region, are “protected,” but added: “The Avdiivka and Maryinka directions are particularly tough.”
Russian forces have for weeks now thrown huge numbers of men and materiel into the fight and have suffered massive losses, with one push earlier this month amounting to their biggest land defeat in nine months.
During a brief relative lull last week, Ukrainian forces were bracing for a renewed push which came on Thursday and Friday.
Fighting continued over the weekend, but on Sunday Russian sources reported there were no significant changes to the front lines.
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) wrote: “A prominent Russian milblogger” claimed that Ukrainian forces “unexpectedly” counterattacked near the abandoned village of Pisky (8 km southwest of Donetsk) and “pushed Russian forces from positions in the area.”
However, another such blogger, the ISW wrote, reported that claims of Ukrainian advances near Pisky and Opytne (4 km south of Avdiivka) are false.
As has been a regular feature of Moscow’s assault on Avdiivka, numerous videos posted on social media showed the destruction of Russian vehicles.
One Kremlin-affiliated blogger on Sunday posted about a “positional deadlock” around Avdiivka, writing that “the proliferation of FPV drones and other relatively inexpensive precision weapons has significantly increased the vulnerability of armored vehicles on the battlefield, making storming positions even more difficult.”
Or, in the words of the Institute for the Study of War: “It is difficult to conduct warfare on a static front line with a large number of personnel and fortified areas on both sides.”
According to the Ukrainian military, Russia has been losing close to 1,000 men each day during its attempt to take the town, as well as tens of tanks and armored vehicles.
On Oct. 13, a volunteer for the Russian army reached out to social media asking for donations of body bags, saying that there was a “deficit in the Donetsk Region.”
Russian milbloggers have noted that Russia currently faces many of the challenges faced by Ukrainian forces in the early months of the counteroffensive, particularly dense minefields.
The ISW wrote: “However, it remains to be seen if Russian forces have the capabilities and flexibility to adapt in some manner, as Ukrainian forces did following early setbacks in June 2023.”
Videos posted on social media also suggest that some Russian troops are being sent into battle in obsolete, 70-year-old vehicles.
Avdiivka has been a symbol of Ukrainian resistance since 2014, after it briefly fell to Russian-backed separatists.
It lies just 15 kilometers (nine miles) from the Moscow-held city of Donetsk, capital of the Donetsk region that Russia said last September it was annexing.
“This is not the first instance the occupying forces have boosted tension with declarations of taking over all of Donetsk and Luhansk,” he wrote.
“Their plans have failed, the deadlines pushed back. This is just another episode of tension.”
Built around a huge coke plant, Avdiivka had a pre-war population of around 30,000 people. Around 1,600 remain, according to local authorities, living in basements converted into bomb shelters.
The city center has been all but destroyed through daily Russian artillery shelling and a months-long aerial bombing campaign.
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