Kremlin forces leading off with saturating air strikes with long-range glide bombs have torn into Ukrainian defenses in multiple sectors and have gained around 2 kilometers (1 mile) of ground west of the battlefield city Avdiivka, news and official reports said on Monday.

The Moscow ground gains around the village Tonenke, site of a bloody defeat of Russian troops over March 31-April 1, came after days of air strikes on Ukrainian positions in the area, Russian mil-bloggers reported.

Russian commanders deployed multiple Su-34 fighter bombers dropping half-ton glide bombs to blast Kyiv forces defending the south-Donetsk sector near Avdiivka, official Russian Defense Ministry television aired on Sunday showed.

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View of a Russian FAB-500M-62 glide bomb aboard a Su-34 fighter bomber, prior to a combat mission targeting Ukrainian troops in the south Donetsk sector, according to official Russian sources. Kyiv Post screen grab of Russian Defense Ministry video published on April 7.

The Ukrainian military information platform Deep State in an April 4 report confirmed Russian advances in the Avdiivka sector including full Kremlin capture of the battleground village Tonenke, saying: “The enemy has advanced in Berdychi and is carrying out assaults in the direction of (adjacent to Avdiivka) Semenivka and Umanske. The (vulgar word for Russians) captured Vodiane and are advancing on Pervomaiske.”

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Ukrainian defenses were still viable and Russian forces had not broken through despite powerful advantages in artillery and air support, pro-Kyiv information platforms said.

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A Russian FAB-500M-62 glide bomb deploys its wings (circled) after a drop from an Su-34 fighter bomber during a claimed combat mission targeting Ukrainian troops in the south Donetsk sector. Kyiv Post screen grab and graphics, Russian Defense Ministry video published on April 7.

Two Russian FAB-500M-62 glide bombs allegedly hit a “Ukrainian command post” during a video published by Russia’s Defense Ministry on April 7. Kyiv Post screen grab.

A Monday morning statement by Russia’s Ministry said elements of Ukraine’s 24th, 47th, 115th, 59th, and 25th Airborne Brigades launched counterattacks in the Avdiivka sector but failed to recover lost ground.

The pro-Moscow milblogger Zaporozhskiy Front, in a Monday morning post, said Russian forces were intensifying attacks in the Avdiivka sector, and that ground assaults were in progress following heavy air and artillery strikes on Ukrainian positions northwest of the city.

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“Immediate. Adviivka sector. After massive artillery preparation using a large number of KABOV (glide bombs) and hundreds of MLRS and heavy artillery shells, our army launched a powerful attack in the north of the Avdiivka sector.  The blow is directed towards the Novokalynove area, as well as in the direction of Ocheretyne. This settlement is key on this section of the front. We are waiting and praying for our guys!” the morning flash report said.

Ukrainian forces in February evacuated fortifications around Adviivka, first established in 2014, following weeks of high-firepower Russian attacks. Most punishing were repeated Russian air strikes using glide bombs launched 30-40 kilometers (19-25 miles) from the front lines, beyond the range of most Ukrainian air defense systems.

Russian Air Force ground crew hooks up an FAB-500M-62 glide bomb to a Su-34 fighter bomber, allegedly prior to a combat mission targeting Ukrainian troops in the south Donetsk sector. Kyiv Post screen grab of official Russian Defense Ministry video published on April 7. The blurring of the Russian soldier’s face was by Kremlin censors.

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Ukraine operates three US-made Patriot anti-aircraft missile systems able to hit aircraft at ranges above 100 kilometers (62 miles), however, Kyiv forces are unable to use its Patriots against Russian bombers toting glide bombs, because the US Congress in December 2023 invoked a total halt to American military aid to Ukraine, including ammunition reloads for the Patriots.  

The Kremlin in late 2023 moved to exploit Ukraine’s gap in long-range air defenses by accelerating production of glide bombs. In January, according to the official news agency TASS, Russian arms manufacturers kicked off mass production of a new glide bomb able to deploy cluster munitions.

US Army Patriot launcher fires a modernized anti-aircraft missile during an August 2022 exercise at White Sands missile range. Ukraine reportedly operates three of the highly capable systems, one donated by Washington and two by Germany. The tested American weapon is fully capable of preventing almost all Russian glide bomb attacks on Ukrainian forces, however Ukrainian forces lack sufficient launchers and are critically short of missiles. The US halted all arms transfers to Ukraine in Dec. 2023. Official US Army image.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in April 6 comments on a national television news broadcast said Russian air forces will continue to be able to launch glide bombs with impunity until Kyiv is able to shoot the Russian bombers.

 “Today, there is only one way to deal with the KAB (Russian – Корректируемая Авиационная Бомба) – with air defenses. You shoot down the fighters, you shoot down the Russian bomb carriers. And this has worked dozens of times, we have shot down dozens of their bombers. They saw this, and they responded, and they started making KAB bombs that work at a longer range… so now we have to increase the range of our air defenses… we are developing other weapons against KAB bombs. This is local production. I won’t give details at this point,” he said.

The Ukrainian leader declined to answer a question about how many Patriot missiles Kyiv has left. F-16 jet fighters and trained pilots to fly them are on track to be received by the Ukrainian air force in coming months, but their small numbers are unlikely to stop all Russian bomb strikes, Zelensky said.

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“The jets they [Ukraine’s allies] are planning to give us this year, are about 10 percent of the numbers we probably need,” he said.

Over the weekend, Ukrainian and Russian official and social media sources reported Russian air strikes against forward Ukrainian positions, along with around Avdiivka, in the Kharkiv, Vuhledar, and Chasiv Yar sectors.

Emergency response teams remove rubble following a Saturday Russian glide bomb strike against a residential building in Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv. Ukrainian official photograph by the Ministry of Emergency Situations.

In Vuhledar, scene of months of bloody battles following repeated failed Russian attempts to break into the city. The milblogger VoinDV called a Saturday strike with half-ton glide bombs dropped by aircraft and pilots serving Russia’s 11th Air Force “Punishment from Heaven.”

Around the Donbas town of Chasiv Yar near the city of Bakhmut, which Russian forces captured in 2023 after nearly six months of bloody assaults, stepped-up attacks by Kremlin troops backed up by heavy air strikes likewise have been reported. According to some sources, Ukrainian air defenses are weakening. A Ukrainian volunteer reportedly in the area on April 5 posted on X: Fighting is already taking place in parts of the city [Chasiv Yar]. In fact, enemy planes are flying right over the city, dropping bombs on their own at the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Air defense in the city no longer works.”

In the Kharkiv region, on Saturday, Russian glide bombs hit a four-story apartment building, demolishing the structure and killing one woman.  

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