Two leading independent Ukrainian military journalists on Sunday sounded warning bells over intense Russian attacks against the embattled city Adviivka. Kremlin information platforms said the assaults were proceeding well, whereas official Kyiv sources reported defenses were strong and holding.

Avdiivka, a coal-mining center in the Donbas region and frontline city since Russia’s first invasion of Ukraine in 2014, has been the target of intense and bloody Russian ground and air attacks since October. In recent months the Kremlin appeared to shift tactics away from frontal assaults to attempts to encircle the city from the north.

Yuriy Butusov, an independent combat correspondent running Censor.net, one of Ukraine’s widest-read information platforms, in Feb. 4 personal blog comments said that Ukrainian lines around Avdiivka are near breaking because of a powerful advantage in numbers of artillery shells and assault soldiers, as well as total Russian air superiority. Following weeks of attacks, Russian troops have finally broken into built-up areas of the city, and hard-pressed Ukrainian units are weakening due to heavy losses and few reinforcements, he said.

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“The situation is critical. The 110th Mechanized Brigade, as well as several attached units, are engaged in battles with an enemy that is several times superior in strength and is constantly applying fresh reinforcements to its infantry. Avdiivka urgently needs fresh reserves and rotation of units… Ammunition is also necessary – supplies are extremely small, the enemy has a great advantage in means of destruction,” Butusov reported.

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Butusov said Russian forces were suffering serious losses, but warned that unless Ukrainian troops holding out in the city were reinforced or replaced by stronger units, defenses manned by “exhausted” Ukrainian troops could fail. Top army command unwillingness to hear bad news and mid-level commander hesitance to report deteriorating battle conditions to their bosses is making the problem worse, he said.

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Military correspondent Andriy Tsaplienko, a high-profile reporter working for the mainstream 1+1 TV channel, in a Sunday Telegram post reported a rapidly deteriorating situation in Adviivka.

“Today, according to my sources in Avdiivka, the situation in the city has become critical. Russian assault troops took advantage of the cloudy weather and the impossibility of high-quality aerial reconnaissance [by Ukrainian drones], and entered the city from the northeast, from the side of the Avdiivka quarry… They bypassed the Ukrainian battle formations and entrenched themselves in the buildings. This means that they are hundreds of meters away from the main logistical artery of the Ukrainian defenders,” Tsaplienko said.

“The situation is not hopeless yet, the military is saying. If there are infantry reserves with experience of fighting in urban areas, the Russian breakthrough can still be eliminated,” he said.

The Ukrainian military on Monday was tight-lipped about battles in the Avdiivka sector. The morning situation estimate from the Army General Staff (AGS) stated only that in the past 24 hours Kyiv’s troops had repelled 31 ground attacks around the city and the neighboring villages Novobakhmutivka and Stepove.

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Kremlin-associated sources, in contrast, claimed Russian assaults around Avdiivka were progressing well. In a Feb. 5 situation update, the popular pro-Kremlin blogger Dva Maiora (Two Majors) reported that Russian troops were advancing from both north and south of Avdiivka, and that Ukrainian defenses were deteriorating.

“In the Avdiivka sector the military forces are developing success. They have succeeded in taking AFU positions to the north near the filtration station and have advanced one kilometer into the [Ukrainian] rear area. Our troops have bypassed Blue Lake and have entered the built-up area of the city. The enemy [AFU] considers the situation critical… To the south of Avdiivka there are advances by our forward elements of several hundred meters near Sportyvna and Soborna Streets. And on the ‘Avdiivka encirclement’ our air force and artillery are constantly carrying out strikes,” the popular mil-blogger told his 500,000+ followers.

The Russian military blogger Aleksei Zhivov on Feb. 4 wrote that the Ukrainian situation in the town was deteriorating under heavy Kremlin pressure: “Avdiivka needs new [Ukrainian] reserves, and troops from the 110th [Ukrainian Mechanized Infantry Brigade] need to be rotated out of combat. The AFU needs ammunition, supplies are extremely limited. Russian Federation forces have a strong advantage in firepower.”

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Deep State, a Ukrainian military information platform tracking troop locations and line of contact movement since the outset of Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, said in a Feb. 5 article that intense combat was in progress and that Russian assaults were focused on the village Novokalynovo, some eight kilometers north of Avdiivka.

Of the 66 Russian ground attacks identified across the entire fighting front, on Sunday, 27 hit Ukrainian defenses around Novokalynovo, the UNIAN news agency reported. The objective of the Russian assaults was to gain control of a key supply route delivering food and ammunition to troops in Avdiivka, but roads to and from the city were still open, that report said.

Official Kyiv-approved reports and media were upbeat, telling of Ukrainian troops defeating multiple Russian attacks around Avdiivka and maintaining good morale.

A Feb. 4 report by the Ukrainian war news TV program My-Ukraina described Avdiivka as “the hottest sector on the front” and reported that Russian forces had hit Ukrainian troops stationed there with air strikes and chemical munitions, but that Ukrainian defenses were strong and unbroken.

Images aired in the four-minute news piece showed US-made heavy weapons operating near the front line, including a single M1A2 Abrams tank and multiple Bradley Infantry Fighting vehicles.

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Infantrymen interviewed from the 47th Mechanized Brigade credited US-made Bradley for enabling Ukrainian forces to hold their positions against Russian ground assaults and artillery attacks. A senior soldier identified in the TV report as Leykin credited the American personnel carrier’s thick armor, maneuverability, and powerful autocannon as lynchpins in the Ukrainian defenses.

“Ukrainian defenses in the Avdiivka sector are strong and able to hold,” he said.

“To civilians, I would say that they shouldn’t panic. Everything will be fine,” Leykin told the camera team.

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