Ukraine Scores Rare Avdiivka Win as Russia Attacks on Eastern Front: UK

Author

Ukrainian forces have enjoyed some success in the brutal battle for Avdiivka, according to British officials, in an update that follows a series of recent downbeat assessments regarding Kyiv’s war prospects.

Russia launched a push for Avdiivka in October and while Moscow’s forces have suffered some of their highest casualties of the war, Russian military bloggers have pointed to steady and hard-won progress for the town—which is key to Moscow taking full control of the Ukrainian oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Russian milbloggers have also said that Ukraine has suffered high losses, and in the last few weeks both Ukraine’s top general Valeri Zaluzhnyi and some military experts expressed doubt about Kyiv’s ability to break Russian lines in the area.

Panorama of Avdiivka from a bird’s-eye view, shot on a drone, covered with snow on December 7, 2023. British defense officials said on December 11, 2023 that Ukrainian forces had some success in the fight for the Donetsk town that Russia has staged an offensive on.
Kostya Liberov/Getty Images

The British Ministry of Defense (MOD) said on Monday that Avdiivka has been the scene of the most intense combat on the front, citing Ukrainian data that on some days around 40 percent of combat engagements are likely to have taken place in the small sector. But the MOD said that “Ukrainian units have likely conducted successful local counterattacks, denying Russian forces full control of the village of Stepove.”

This was also reported by the Kremlin-affiliated Russian milblogger Rybar, who said that Ukrainian forces had advanced in unspecified forest areas near Stepove, where Russian troops were attempting one part of a pincer movement to envelop Avdiivka and its heavily defended industrial zone.

“The Ukrainian military command has set the task of holding Avdiivka at any cost,” the Rybar channel said, noting that “over 40 battalions from eight brigades of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, transferred from the western sectors of the front, are concentrated in this direction.”

Another Russian milblogger, Two Majors, has described the Avdiivka front as “a lighter version of the Bakhmut meat grinder,” referring to the Donetsk city that saw high casualties during a fierce fight.

Russia’s offensives in Avdiivka continue to involve largely dismounted infantry assaults, often by Storm-Z penal units. The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said on Sunday that Russian forces are conducting attritional infantry-led frontal assaults on Ukrainian fortifications “at high cost.”

The Ukrainian General Staff reported on Sunday that its troops had repelled at least 39 Russian attacks within six miles in several directions of Avdiivka, as well as near Stepove.

Meanwhile, Alexander Syrsky, the head of the Ukrainian Ground Forces, described the operation situation in the east of Ukraine as “difficult” and said 60 military clashes took place at the front during the day.

The Ukrainian Avdiivka City Military Administration head, Vitaliy Barabash, said Russian forces are constantly attacking and striking Ukrainian positions near Avdiivka regardless of the weather conditions.

Newyork Verified has contacted the Russian defense ministry for comment by email.