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Bakhmut 2.0 for Putin and Ukraine's maneuvers on Dnipro bank: Frontline update

Bakhmut 2.0 for Putin and Ukraine's maneuvers on Dnipro bank: Frontline update The Ukrainian military retains the initiative in certain directions, the offensive in the South continues (photo:

The Russians want to seize the initiative at the front. To force the Ukrainian Defense Forces to go on the defensive and win new "victories" for Putin's election campaign, the occupiers were active throughout the East.

To prepare the report, publications of The Economist, telegram channels of military observers, communication with Ukrainian intelligence representatives on the condition of anonymity were used, as well as exclusive comments of Ukrainian military experts.

Over the past few weeks, Russia has increased the intensity of offensive actions and attacks along the entire front line. Despite the colossal losses, Moscow seeks to regain the initiative in the theater of operations.

On the eve of the presidential elections, the Kremlin does not need a protest background due to the mobilization and fatigue of the population from a war that does not bring them any gains. That is why Russian generals are using all their available forces, imagination, and resources so that Putin can answer during the campaign: hundreds of thousands of Russians died not in vain.

There is another side to this idea. Moscow wants to show the West that despite the influx of foreign weapons, the Ukrainian offensive has faded, and Russia is still gaining the upper hand. This, according to the Kremlin's logic, will push American and European politicians to abandon military and technical support for Ukraine and strengthen the voices of the so-called peacekeepers. Therefore, Moscow's "plan A" for the coming months seems to capture additional territories without losing the already occupied ones. "Plan B" - through activation along the entire front, force Ukrainian troops to go on the defensive, while giving up any offensive campaigns.

However, since the Ukrainian army continues to press on certain areas, Russia faces a dilemma. It does not have free military formations, it cannot yet carry out anything more than covert mobilization. Therefore, the occupying command can only transfer existing units to the front, sacrificing defense in other directions.


Perhaps the most difficult section of the front today is the Avdiivka district. This city was located near the demarcation line with temporarily occupied separate districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions since 2014. About a month ago, the enemy intensified its offensive on the flanks of Avdiivka. This is the largest Russian operation since the capture of Bakhmut six months ago. The tactics of the regular Russian army here are also very similar to how the fighters of the Russian illegal armed formation Wagner acted.

In the North, the occupiers are trying to move from Krasnohorivka in different directions. Recently, Russian pro-war publications wrote that the enemy allegedly managed to occupy the Avdiivka Coke Plant, but this information is not true. Enemy attacks continue on the approaches to the plant, it is located on the northwestern outskirts of Avdiivka, near Kamianka and Stepove, near which battles are also taking place.

Unlike Kamianka, which was captured by the Russians at the beginning of this year, the occupying forces are still trying to enter Stepove. The battles begin already for the village itself. His loss could worsen the situation of Ukrainian troops in the Avdiivka area. On the southern flank, clashes are taking place near Vodyane in the direction of Pervomaiske, Severne, and Nevelske.

Bakhmut 2.0 for Putin and Ukraine's maneuvers on Dnipro bank: Frontline updateThe Ukrainian military continues a defensive operation in the Avdiyivka area, there is a threat of encirclement by the Russians (photo: Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, Facebook)

Colonel Oleksandr Shtupun, spokesperson for the United Press Center of the Defense Forces of the Tavria Region, said that, in addition to the assaults, the Russians are shelling Ukrainian units with guided air bombs from Su-35s. The Russians drop about 30 bombs a day in the Avdiivka direction. Their goal is to clamp down on Ukrainian units defending in Avdiivka, cutting off their routes for both supply and retreat. Now the distance from the northern and southern positions of the occupiers is about 7 kilometers.

"The situation in this area is very dynamic. The enemy has concentrated up to 40,000 personnel there and is trying to transform them into some territorial gains, completely disregarding losses. Another key point where the enemy is making incredible efforts to turn the situation around is the Maryinka district. In some days, a third of enemy combats occur precisely in the Maryinka direction," says ex-head of the press service of the General Staff, reserve colonel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Vladyslav Seleznov.

The prospects of keeping Avdiivka remain unknown. Now the Russians are putting pressure on this area not only for political reasons but also for quite practical reasons. One of their tasks is to push Ukrainian troops and artillery as far as possible from Donetsk to create a so-called buffer zone around it. Like Avdiivka, the aggressor has been unsuccessfully trying to take Maryinka for more than 20 months. Now the fighting is taking place within the destroyed city. Ukrainian Defense Forces are in control of the western part of Maryinka.

"The enemy has no other options for advance. They need to show something at the front. And that is why the enemy chose Avdiivka and Maryinka as certain symbolic areas. Besides, these are the closest cities, which they, to their opinion, they can take over," Shtupun explained.

Over a month of active fighting, the Russians according to very approximate estimates, lost more than 10,000 personnel in the Avdiivka area. Moreover, in just the first few days of their offensive, the Russians got rid of more equipment in this direction than the Ukrainian units did in the entire first month of their operation in the South. However, Moscow not only does not abandon its attempts to surround Avdiivka but also activates hostilities in other areas of the front.

This week, the enemy also carried out assaults in the Shakhtarsk direction. According to Shtupun, the enemy tried to advance with a mechanized convoy towards Vuhledar, but after suffering losses, retreated: the Russians got rid of more than a dozen units of military equipment.

Another part of the front, where the aggressor intensified combat operations this fall, is the Kupiansk and Lyman directions. It is obvious that from the beginning of the planning of this operation, the Lyman direction was supposed to be the main one, while the Kupiansk direction was to be auxiliary, but later the priorities changed. In the Lyman direction, battles are taking place in the Serebryanskyi forest. Now the land on its territory has been burned, so it can be called forest very conditionally.

At the same time, fighting continues in the Kupiansk direction near Lyman Pershyi, Synkivka, Pershotravnevo, and Orlyanka. The enemy's goal is to align the front line along the Oskil River or at least occupy the eastern part of the city of Kupiansk, an important railway hub. According to Seleznov, the Russians still have the initiative on this part of the front.

"The enemy in this direction carries out airstrikes with the help of attack aircraft, bomber aircraft, helicopters, uses kamikaze drones and artillery. However, since the beginning of the activation of the Russians in the Kupiansk and Lyman directions, the enemy has not managed to capture a single populated place," said the head of the communications service Volodymyr Fityo, Public Relations Officer of the Land Forces Command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Bakhmut 2.0 for Putin and Ukraine's maneuvers on Dnipro bank: Frontline updateIn the Kupiansk direction, the enemy wants to push our troops beyond the Oskil River and take part of Kupiansk (photo: GettyImages)

In recent days, the occupiers have had some success on the northern flank of Bakhmut, in the area of Yagidne - Berkhivka. There, the Russians make their way to Chasovyi Yar, which is located at the dominant height. By taking this city, the enemy will greatly simplify his further movement to Kostiantynivka, Kramatorsk, and Slovyansk. To the south of Bakhmut, the enemy is making efforts to restrain our movement in the area of Klishchiivka and Andriivka.

"The enemy is trying to seize the initiative on this part of the front and is counterattacking the Ukrainian defenders to restore lost positions," Fityo added.


Around the summer, reports began to appear in the information space that Ukrainian military personnel had been spotted on the left bank of the Kherson region. Russian pro-war publics also recognized that our Defense Forces managed to gain a foothold on several bridgeheads on the enemy-controlled side of the Dnipro. Despite the lack of comments from Ukrainian official speakers, this information gradually began to grow with new and new confirmations. All the available facts in sum indicate that this operation is not of the raid category, but somewhat larger.

From open sources, it can be assumed that as of now, the Ukrainian military has at least two bridgeheads on the left bank of the Kherson region - in the area of the Antonivskyi road and railway bridge, as well as near the settlement of Krynky. After all, the presence of a bridgehead on the left bank was confirmed the other day by the head of the President's Office, Andriy Yermak.

Against this background, on November 13, the pro-Kremlin mass media, regarding the Russian Ministry of Defense, wrote about the alleged decision to regroup the occupying forces on the left bank of the Kherson region. Shoigu's ministry hastily issued a rebuttal, calling the appearance of such information a provocation. What happened is not known for sure. Perhaps someone from the apparatus of the Russian Ministry of Defense mistakenly sent a prepared "just in case" release to the media. However, this "case" in the Kherson region has not yet been traced. Now the occupiers are withdrawing their forces to the coast of the Dnipro to eliminate the Ukrainian bridgeheads.

Russian militants write that on the left bank, there may be from 300 to 500 Ukrainian marines, who have at their disposal, in particular, armored vehicles. According to the estimates of Seleznov and another military observer Kostyantyn Mashovets, the enemy group "Dnepr" (operating in parts of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions), which has about 65,000 personnel, is opposing the Ukrainian fighters. But even with multiple advantages in both strength and means, the Russians have not been able to dislodge the Ukrainian troops from their occupied positions for several weeks in a row. According to Seleznov, fighting is currently taking place in the area of the village of Krynky, as well as Pidstepne and Pishchanivka.

The fact is that the coast of the Dnipro River is the most distant section on the map of the Russian logistics route. Volodymyr Rohov, a collaborator from Zaporizhzhia, admitted that the Armed Forces of Ukraine had already managed to cut the supply routes of the occupying group in the Kherson region in some areas. This is confirmed by Ukrainian commentators. We are probably talking about the road that runs along the Dnipro from Oleshky to Krynky. Therefore, the enemy needs to use other means of logistical support, and this increases the time and burden of delivering supplies for the forces of the Russian Federation.

One of the events that indicate Moscow's concern about the state of affairs in the Kherson region is the fact that at the end of October, the commander of the airborne forces of the Russian Federation Mikhail Teplinsky, who had previously participated in combat operations on the opposite side of the Dnipro River, took charge of the "Dnepr" group.

It is extremely difficult to predict the future success of Ukrainian forces in this area since we also currently do not have stable logistics there. According to Seleznov, the distance between the banks of the Dnipro in this part is a thousand meters. Bridge crossings and the Kakhovska HPP were destroyed by the enemy, and our troops still do not have pontoon crossings. This makes it difficult to expand our bridgehead on the left bank.

"While the fighting is going on near the Dnipro River, the situation is more or less under control. Our artillery from the right bank provides artillery support for our marines on the left bank. They are also partially under the umbrella of our air defense, which is located on the right bank. However, if they move further — they will increasingly come out of this cover zone," the interlocutor explained.

It is unlikely that the current goal of the Ukrainian troops is to move to Crimea through the Dnipro. Three tasks appear to be the most realistic and achievable. The first is to push the Russian troops as far as possible from the Dnipro to reduce the intensity of the shelling of Kherson. The second is to cut another road that goes from Oleshky towards Nova Kakhovka (T2206 or M-14). If Russian logistics near the Dnipro are made more difficult, it may force the occupiers to at least withdraw their troops from the Kinburn spit, which in turn may unblock part of Ukrainian ports.

The third task is to bind the occupying group in the Kherson region because earlier the enemy had already taken units from there to strengthen other directions. In particular, in the zone of our offensive operation in the Zaporizhzhia region.

"It is obvious that the enemy perceives our actions quite nervously. Recently, the Russians transferred four airborne assault divisions to the Tokmak area. Now the units of one of them - the 7th - the occupiers have headed for the Kherson region. Probably, the enemy understands that it is necessary to strengthen the grouping of its troops with those units that can quickly move to designated boundaries to more actively counter the Ukrainian offensive," Seleznov says.

Bakhmut 2.0 for Putin and Ukraine's maneuvers on Dnipro bank: Frontline updateDefense forces of Ukraine continue offensive in the South (photo: GettyImages)

In the Tokmak or Melitopol direction, hostilities resumed. Ukrainian units retain the initiative and continue attacks directly on the line of defensive structures of Surovikin. However, our movement is very slow due to the lack of air superiority and the powerful network of fortifications and minefields laid by the enemy.

In recent days, our military had limited success west of Robotyne and Verbove. The progress of the Ukrainian offensive, on which many hopes were based, for the fifth month is measured in thousands of meters, not tens of kilometers. However, according to Shtupun, the operation of Ukrainian troops in the Melitopol region continues. Therefore, it is still premature to draw any conclusions or put an end to it.

What can we achieve shortly? It is not worth expecting significant breakthroughs on the front until the end of this year - neither from our side nor from the side of the aggressor. Both Ukraine and Russia have reached a point of shaky parity, when it is too difficult to significantly move the front line with the available forces, means, and training.

In addition, in winter, hostilities will most likely slow down, but another campaign of strikes will intensify. With the onset of cold weather, the enemy will try to destroy our energy system, and the Ukrainian Defense Forces will try to destroy military logistics and support for the Russians.

The next important stage is the spring-summer campaign, the results of which will depend primarily on the amount of aid from the West. In his column for The Economist, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valerii Zaluzhnyi noted that the new phase of the war will require new technologies, even more drones, EWs, artillery, modern aviation, and demining systems. If the Allies can at least partially satisfy these demands, Ukraine will be able to win even in a protracted war, but at a very high cost.

The second factor that will affect the spring-summer period is whether or not large-scale mobilization will be held in Russia. According to the latest estimates, more than 420,000 occupiers are fighting on the territory of Ukraine, Andrii Yusov, representative of the Defense Intelligence of Ukraine, told the agency. According to him, this number has remained stable in recent months. That is, covert mobilization in Russia allows replenishing losses at the front, but not increasing the contingent. After the presidential election, Putin will no longer have any obstacles to announce the next wave of mobilization of hundreds of thousands of Russian men.

Another defining stage in the 2024 military campaign is the US elections in the fall. American politics in the event of a Biden victory looks more predictable. However, Trump's coming to power, which Putin is now apparently betting on, will bring a lot of unknowns. The results with which the Ukrainian Defense Forces will enter the American election campaign will largely determine the future position of the White House and the future of the war, no matter who sits in the Oval Office.