On Wednesday, Ukrainian soldiers on the ground near Avdiivka posted on social media that they had an eerie feeling that they were witnessing a regrouping moment for Moscow’s forces, a sort of relative calm before the storm.

By Thursday morning, that storm arrived: a massive assault that was being called the “third wave,” with hordes of Russian infantrymen surging into Ukrainian fire, platoon after platoon.

“The fields are just littered with corpses,” said “Oleksandr,” a deputy commander of a Ukrainian battalion in the 47th Mechanized Brigade, to AFP. “They are trying to exhaust our lines with constant waves of attacks,” he said, without providing his full name.

Said a drone operator with the call sign, “Trauma”: “Some die, others keep on coming. Its like a zombie movie,” he told AFP.

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Kyiv’s forces responded to the attacks with artillery, mortars, grenades, drones and cannons fired from Bradley fighting vehicles.

Ukrainian Brigadier General Oleksandr Tarnavski offered some perspective in numbers, on a Telegram post Thursday afternoon.

“The enemy’s losses in manpower and armored vehicles are increasing — 8 tanks were destroyed, and the total loss in manpower is more than 700 people. In the operational zone of the Tavria Air Defense Forces, the enemy carried out 11 airstrikes, carried out 56 combat engagements and fired 973 artillery shells.

Presumed Ukrainian Air Base Targeted by Russian Combined Missile and Drone Attack
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Presumed Ukrainian Air Base Targeted by Russian Combined Missile and Drone Attack

The primary target of the strike was Starokonstyantyniv in the Khmelnytsky region, which is widely thought to be home to a vast Ukrainian air base.

“Our defenders are firmly holding the defense in the Avdiivka direction,” he said.

Tarnavski added that “51 items of military equipment were destroyed. In particular, 8 tanks, 13 anti-aircraft guns, 8 artillery systems, 2 anti-aircraft vehicles, 15 anti-aircraft missiles, 5 vehicles. 2 ammunition depots and 4 important enemy facilities were also destroyed. Another 44 enemy vehicles were damaged.

Oleksandr Shtupun, Spokesperson of the Tavria Group of Forces, said there were about 40,000 Russian soldiers operating in the Avdiivka area.

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The Russians dug tunnels to reach Ukrainian positions, going so far as to even plant mines behind them, one soldier reported in a TV interview from the front:

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