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ISW: Russian capture of Avdiivka highlights strategic maneuvering, forces Ukrainian defensive commitments

19 Feb, 2024
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ISW: Russian capture of Avdiivka highlights strategic maneuvering, forces Ukrainian defensive commitments

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The Russian capture of Avdiivka after four months of intensified offensive operations exemplifies the way that Russian forces pursue offensive operations that do not necessarily set conditions for wider operational gains but still force Ukraine to commit manpower and material to defensive operations. 

Russian forces have been fighting near Avdiivka for most of the full-scale invasion thus far and intensified operations to capture the city in mid-October 2023.

In the subsequent four months since October, Russian forces managed to advance nearly nine kilometers in Avdiivka according to Russian estimates.

Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Commander Brigadier General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi stated on February 18 that during this four month period, Russian forces lost over 47,000 personnel, 364 tanks, 248 artillery systems, 748 armored fighting vehicles, and five aircraft.

Russian forces were also unable to complete a full operational encirclement of Avdiivka within that four-month window, and Ukrainian forces appear to have been able to withdraw in mainly good order. A Russian milblogger and volunteer with the 4th Motorized Rifle Brigade (2nd Luhansk People’s Republic Army Corps [LNR AC]) remarked on the rate of Russian losses compared with the territory gained on February 17, suggesting that even some Russian sources are cognizant of the extremely high price these limited Russian gains have cost.

The milblogger claimed that Russian forces suffered 16,000 “irretrievable losses” (likely those killed in action, whereas Tarnavskyi’s estimate may have also included wounded) in the Avdiivka direction since October 2023.

The milblogger also sardonically noted that the tank regiments and tank divisions that were operating near Avdiivka “distinguished” themselves by advancing a few kilometers in four months and taking massive personnel losses.

By contrast, according to the milblogger, Ukrainian forces suffered far fewer losses and were able to withdraw to prepared defensive positions mostly on their own terms, meaning that exhausted and attrited Russian forces will now have to once again fight Ukrainian troops on new lines. Russian forces succeeded in drawing Ukrainian forces to Avdiivka and away from other areas of the front and forcing Ukrainians to use up already limited Ukrainian stores of critical equipment but did so without securing major operational gains. This outcome is likely to recur in ongoing offensive operations on the Kharkiv-Luhansk region border line and in western Zaporizhzhia region.

The Odessa Journal

The Odessa Journal

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