One of Russia’s most massive armored attacks in months was crushed in the Avdiivka sector over the weekend, with a crack Ukrainian paratrooper unit claiming the destruction of more than 20 of the Kremlin’s tanks and armored fighting vehicles in a single day of fighting.

The March 30 assault by elements of Russia’s 90th Tank Division hit fortifications manned by Ukraine’s 25th Airborne Brigade, a volunteer formation fighting in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas sector for more than two years. The 25th is the Armed Forces of Ukraine’s (AFU) sole regular army paratrooper unit.

Sources on both the Russian and Ukrainian sides confirmed the March Russian attack came across mostly open ground to the west of the city Avdiivka, near the village Tonenke. A reported 36 Russian tanks followed by 12 BMP infantry carriers led off the attempt to break into Ukrainian defenses to the west of the village but failed to do so after hitting fierce resistance, the sources said.

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The Russian attack columns halted after lead vehicles struck mines, and then Ukrainian defenders hit the stalled columns with artillery and anti-tank missiles. Explosive-toting Ukrainian FPV drones then followed up, setting broken tanks and fighting vehicles on fire with repeated strikes and hunting down retreating Russian soldiers, those reports said.

The Ukrainian military analytical information platform Militarnyi said most of the Russian losses were suffered by Russia’s 6th Regiment 90th Tank Division, a unit considered at the outset of the war one of Russia’s best-equipped and -trained.

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Video published over the weekend geolocated the battle area showed multiple instances of Russian armored units driving into fierce Ukrainian fire and later retreating with losses, a Kyiv Post review found. Ukrainian sources citing drone video said that Russian forces lost 12 tanks and eight BMPs in a few hours of combat. One Russian column was shown to drive into an ambush to get hit first with accurate artillery, followed by anti-tank missiles flying in from the Russian troops’ northern flank.

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Video grab from drone imagery of a battlefield near the city Avdiivka. According to sources from both sides Russian forces attempted a major armored attack in the area on Saturday and suffered serious losses. The image shows 19 Russian tanks and armored personnel carriers knocked out in a square kilometer of a battlefield geolocated to fields to the west of the city.

Still images geolocated to the battle area and published to open sources confirmed some but not all of the Ukrainian vehicular kill claims. It was not possible to determine total Russian personnel losses, however, some video showed at least 20 corpses lying near knocked-out combat vehicles.

Images published on April 1 by the 25th Airborne Brigade showed a paratrooper fire team using a Javelin anti-tank missile to destroy a fast-moving tank with a flank shot at a range of 1,500-1,800 meters. The gunner appears confident the US-made weapon’s fire-and-forget tech will function as designed, telling buddies as the missile launches and tracks in “I’ve got him! Now that guy is going to get f****d!|”

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Kyiv Post researchers confirmed the images were recent recordings of the successful destruction of a tank by Ukrainian troops using a Javelin missile, in frontline combat. The terrain was similar to other images of the battle area, but it was not possible to confirm the location independently.

Images published by the drone unit Shadow showed robot aircraft systematically hunting down stopped Russian vehicles and setting them afire in fields and on dirt roads near Tonenke village.

Some of the Russian tanks were mid-range T-80s or modern T-90s. Other tanks depicted in the Ukrainian combat videos appeared to be obsolete T-62s or T-55s first fielded during the mid-Cold War, video showed. Practically all Russian vehicles appearing in both still and video images appeared to be equipped with after-market drone screens.

Kyiv Post screen grab from video published by the 25th Airborne Brigade of a Russian tank shortly before it is struck by an anti-tank weapon in fighting near Avdiivka on March 30. The tank likely is a T-62BV manufactured by Russia during the Vietnam War era. The Kremlin started fielding the mostly obsolescent tank in Ukraine in late 2022.

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Images published on Sunday by the drone unit Alastor, a flight unit supporting 25th Airborne, showed FPV drones seeming to overcome the protective screens by flying underneath them and aiming at engine grates. Other video showed quadcopter kamikaze aircraft chasing individual Russian soldiers prior to detonation. An Alastor statement said that the scale of Russian attacks and casualties inflicted by Ukrainian drones was a unit record for the entire war. Kyiv Post could not confirm the claims.

The same Tonenke battle area saw a smaller Russian armored attack.

Ukraine’s 79th Air Assault Brigade was one of the formations pioneering the now longstanding Kyiv technique of countering major Russian armored attacks by allowing Kremlin tank columns to drive well out into the open and then hitting them with massed direct and indirect fires.

In one of the earliest engagements using the tactic, in February 2023, the 79th effectively wiped out two elite Russian Marine Brigades attempting to gain ground near the city Vuhledar. According to Russian sources, troops from Russia’s 155th Marine Brigade mutinied when later ordered to repeat the assaults.

The Avdiivka sector saw major Russian armored assaults in October and November 2023. In those attacks, Kremlin forces also took heavy losses, but Russian lines advanced and by March 2024, Moscow’s troops had captured the city.

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