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Ukrainian achievements in Avdiivka and fierce Russian assaults: Frontline overview

Ukrainian achievements in Avdiivka and fierce Russian assaults: Frontline overview Ukrainian troops hold back Russian offensive in the East (Getty Images)

Ukrainian forces continue to hold back the enemy offensive in the East, and in the South, they are forcing the Russians to resort to shameful practices from the Second World War. Read about the situation at the front, possible escalation near Lyman and Kupiansk, three goals achieved by the Ukrainian Armed Forces in Avdiivka, and the enemy's desperation on the left bank of the Dnipro in the RBC-Ukraine review.

Sources used: reports from the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Telegram channels of commanders Oleksandr Syrskii and Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, analytics from the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW) and maps from the Ukrainian project DeepState, a Forbes article about the bridgehead on the left bank of the Dnipro, and comments from experts Oleksandr Musienko and Vladyslav Seleznov.

Lyman-Kupiansk axis on the verge of dynamic events

Russian troops are intensifying their offensive in the Kupiansk direction. According to the commander of the Eastern Group of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Oleksandr Syrskii, the enemy is storming positions near the village of Synkivka every day to create a bridgehead to reach Kupiansk. In one of these attacks, they lost a tank, three armored personnel carriers, and about 30 people.

The 14th and 30th separate mechanized brigades managed to repel the assaults in the area of Synkivka. To the southeast, the enemy managed to regain some of the lost positions near Ivanivka. On January 2, Ukrainian defenders repelled seven attacks near Synkivka and east of Petropavlivka.

Ukrainian achievements in Avdiivka and fierce Russian assaults: Frontline overview

Russian troops are trying to reach Kupiansk from the north and east (photo:

The US Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reports positional fighting in these areas, as well as southwest of Svatove near Makiivka and west of Kreminna near Terny and Torske. Regarding geolocation footage, it is reported that Russians are advancing in the area of Karmazynivka and Ploshchanka. In the Lyman direction, the Russian occupants are regrouping and preparing for further offensive actions. Aviation is being actively used for guided bomb attacks.

The enemy has deployed a group of 110,000 people to the Lyman-Kupiansk direction, and the short logistical arm provides them with a certain advantage, says Vladyslav Seleznov, an expert and former spokesperson for the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

"The enemy is redeploying in certain areas, as evidenced by the slowdown in the rate of combat. I think the enemy is accumulating resources, and we are on the verge of quite dynamic events," he says.

In his opinion, this axis is a top priority for the Russians. The Lyman direction is to move closer to the Sloviansk-Kramatorsk agglomeration by using superiority in manpower, artillery, and armored vehicles. Kupiansk - as part of Vladimir Putin's plan to occupy the Kharkiv region as part of the so-called New Russia project.

"It is clear that the plans are changing, but he is dreaming of controlling at least seven regions of Ukraine, including the Kharkiv region," Seleznov says.

Over the past month, the Russian forces have made some progress towards Lyman. A year ago, our positions were a few kilometers from Kreminna, but now they are closer to the Zherebets River near the villages of Terny and Zarichne, which is about 10 kilometers from the Lyman.

Ukrainian achievements in Avdiivka and fierce Russian assaults: Frontline overview

Lyman remains the key to the defense of the Donetsk region (photo:

What is the significance of Lyman from an operational and tactical point of view? Oleksandr Musienko, head of the Center for Military Legal Studies, reminds us that the city's residents call it the northern gate of Donbas.

"That is why Lyman, Sloviansk, and Kramatorsk will always be in the crosshairs and of particular interest to the enemy. Because without capturing, for example, Lyman, it is impossible to realize the task of capturing the Donetsk region. The situation in this area was characterized by the intensification and then suspension of the offensive. This was due to the redeployment of troops to Bakhmut and Avdiivka. Now they have regrouped and are trying to revive the Lyman-Kupiansk axis. Moreover, the weather conditions have changed and allow them to use equipment," he says in an interview with the agency.

Russians are advancing from Bakhmut to Chasiv Yar. What is the main threat?

Russians are also conducting offensive actions in the area of Bakhmut. General Oleksandr Syrskii draws attention to the intense fighting near Bohdanivka. The occupiers' goal here is to reach Chasiv Yar. The situation looks critical: if the enemy takes Bohdanivka, it will be just over 3 kilometers to the city's outskirts.

This town also opens a further way for the offensive towards Sloviansk and Kramatorsk. And we can assume that the Chasiv Yar defense operation started several weeks ago, emphasizes Vladyslav Seleznov.

"Imagine the risks our defenders will face if the enemy can advance in that direction from at least three directions - from Lyman, Chasiv Yar, and through Kurakhove - Pokrovsk - Kostiantynivka. The challenges are very serious. I think the Russian generals' planning is based on this option," the expert says.

In his opinion, holding Chasiv Yar is a strategically important task. It is possible that right now, defense lines are also being strengthened there, according to a recent order from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Ukrainian achievements in Avdiivka and fierce Russian assaults: Frontline overview

Chasiv Yar is another strategically important point on the map (photo:

Last winter, Russians approached it from the south but were pushed back to Bakhmut. Capturing Chasiv Yar could provide the enemy with a foothold to advance not only to Kramatorsk but also to Kostiantynivka. The distance to Kramatorsk is about 20 kilometers, to Kostiantynivka - about 12. The threat is significant because there are no large settlements on the way to them where a powerful defense hub can be created.

"Chasiv Yar still needs to be captured, it is not easy to take it because it is located on the heights. Even if we assume that the enemy takes the city, will they be able to continue to move towards Kostiantynivka, Druzhkivka, and beyond? Yes, there are such risks. Now Ukrainian forces are doing everything to prevent this from happening. Of course, we are also considering scenarios where the occupiers achieve tactical success and enter Chasiv Yar, which I doubt," he tells RBC-Ukraine.

"At the same time, the enemy is breaking into our defense on the southern flank of Bakhmut. Positional fighting is taking place in Klishchiivka, Andriivka, and Kurdiumivka. The enemy is unable to take the heights near Klishchiivka but retains the initiative there.

Avdiivka defense and three goals achieved by the Ukrainian Armed Forces

Enemy attempts to encircle Avdiivka continue. Ukrainian troops are holding the line and inflicting significant losses on the Russians. On January 2, eight attacks north of Avdiivka were repelled, and more than a dozen to the south. Southeast of Novobakhmutivka, we even managed to improve the tactical situation.

ISW analysts, citing geolocation data, have recorded Russian advance near the village of Stepove. The village itself remains in the gray zone. The focus of the assault has shifted to the north, where they are trying to reach Berdychi, fighting for every landing.

As for Avdiivka itself, the only relative success of the Russians was the capture of the southern industrial zone, which allowed them to start fighting in the adjacent private sector. However, enemy assault units cannot gain a foothold here under Ukrainian fire.

The defense of Avdiivka allows the Ukrainian military to hold dozens of kilometers of frontline and keep the occupiers in Donetsk on their toes. At the same time, the recent statement by Ukrainian Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi that Ukrainian troops may leave the city within two to three months indicates a really difficult situation.

Ukrainian achievements in Avdiivka and fierce Russian assaults: Frontline overview

Avdiivka is in a difficult situation, but it allows solving at least three tasks (photo:

"Hardly anyone would dare to give even a medium-term forecast for holding Avdiivka. There are too many unknowns that will influence the development of events. Now the enemy has stopped attacking our positions to the south, but is more active in the north. Pay attention to Stepove. The Russians, having a total advantage in manpower, managed to push us out, but they could not enter there themselves. Why? Because our artillerymen are working effectively, wiping enemy assaults off the face of the earth," explains Seleznov.

According to Musiienko, the defense of Avdiivka has already achieved three important goals. The first is the destruction of personnel and reduction of the offensive potential of Russian troops, which prevented them from achieving operational and strategic success.

"The second is that Avdiivka drew Russian reserves, preventing them from advancing on a broad front in the East. Thirdly, the defense of the city did not lead to the redeployment of large Ukrainian forces from the South, and we, for example, were not forced to abandon the battle for the bridgehead in Krynky (left bank of Kherson region - ed.)," he notes.

Earlier, Tarmo Kundla, head of the Defense Operations Department of the Estonian General Staff, suggested that the capture of Avdiivka would not collapse the front. According to him, the Russian army is capable of taking only small settlements and is unlikely to be able to occupy large areas of the Donetsk region shortly. However, the supply of Ukrainian troops plays an important role here.

"If we have weapons to defend the Donetsk region, the Russians have a slim chance of capturing it. We remember how they stormed Bakhmut for ten months and the losses they suffered. The active offensive on Avdiivka has been going on for three months, and the results for them are also modest, to put it mildly. But without data on our capabilities, I think it makes no sense to speculate whether Avdiivka will be taken or not," Seleznov comments.

Is Maryinka captured? Where will the enemy go next?

Last week, Valerii Zaluzhnyi said that Ukrainian troops had withdrawn to the outskirts of Maryinka. The town had been held for almost two years, but it is no longer there. The defenders are in the northern part of the city, but they are likely to retreat to the defensive lines further away.

"This is a war. And the fact that we have now withdrawn to the outskirts of Maryinka, and in some places a little further, I think there is nothing in this that could cause a public outcry," Zaluzhnyi said.

His words were a response to a report by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu about the alleged complete capture of Maryinka. According to official information, this is not true, and it is incorrect to talk about the capture, as the Ukrainian Defense Forces have not left its administrative borders. According to the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, Oleksii Danilov, it is more difficult to defend this town than Bakhmut, as there is not a single surviving building on its territory.

Ukrainian achievements in Avdiivka and fierce Russian assaults: Frontline overview

After Maryinka, Russian troops may have two options (photo:

In the last few days, no losses of Ukrainian positions have been recorded, which means that the Russian advance has been blocked. One of the achievements is that our forces did not allow them to make a rapid breakthrough, advance to the west, and enter our rear. A controlled withdrawal is underway that will not lead to the collapse of the front.

According to Seleznov, the enemy will not be able to break through quickly after Maryinka because it suffered heavy losses there.

"I think it's more important for them to move from Maryinka to Vuhledar to ensure constant railroad communication in the Volnovakha area. Although they may split up and part of them will go in the direction of Kurakhove and Pokrovsk to reach the Sloviansk-Kramatorsk agglomeration. It is unclear how the enemy will act. But they may want to attack Sloviansk and Kramatorsk in a coordinated manner from the south, north, and east," says the expert.

The battle for Robotynskyi ledge and Zhukov-style (fierce assaults - ed.) on the left bank of the Dnipro River

In the south of the Zaporizhzhia region, the enemy is attacking the Robotynskyi ledge from several sides. Ukrainian forces are holding a small section of the first line of Russian defense northwest of the village of Verbove, but the enemy has managed to cut the gray zone a bit on the rest of the stretch from Novoprokopivka to Verbove.

The local bridgehead is a small area, about 10 by 10 kilometers, but it is critically important for the Ukrainian Defense Forces to overcome the Surovikin Line (Russian defense line - ed.) and finally gain a foothold on the front lines.

"Over the past couple of weeks, the Russians have been putting a lot of pressure, and in some areas, we have been forced to retreat and conduct maneuverable defense. Yesterday, our General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported that they had regained positions in the Verbove area. But, again, we are talking about a few hundred meters, no more. And I would note the difficult situation to the west of Robotyne. There, Russian paratroopers are trying to take control of the outskirts of the village to cut off the ledge and surround our assault units," Seleznov describes the situation.

Ukrainian achievements in Avdiivka and fierce Russian assaults: Frontline overview

Fierce fighting for the Robotyne bridgehead (photo:

On the left bank of the Kherson region, the Ukrainian Armed Forces continue to expand the bridgehead, and the enemy is trying to drive the Ukrainian fighters out. Analysts (ISW) record positional battles, there were no confirmed changes in the front line in this area. Constant Russian attacks near Krynky are being repelled.

As American military journalist David Axe writes in an article for Forbes, Western media used to call the actions of the Marines in Krynky a "suicide mission." But now they see that it is the Russians who are dying in hundreds in attacks there. Ukrainian forces have found a way to offset the enemy's numerical superiority. One of the recent attacks by Russian paratroopers "ended horribly" after an order was given for the "Zhukov maneuver." The Soviet marshal during World War II became famous for forcing soldiers to "clear" minefields on foot.

The article says that Ukrainian drones mine roads at night and in the morning finish off enemy equipment and vehicles by dropping ammunition. Due to this, another attack Zhukov style led to the fact that the 104th Airborne Assault Division of the Russian Federation lost "unique specialists".

Musiienko sees this as an act of desperation, as the enemy has been unable to push our forces to the right bank for several months.

"This bridgehead is like a bone in their throat. Even Putin mentioned it, saying that there was supposedly a small number of Ukrainian troops there, but he forgot to add why a large number of Russian troops could do nothing. And the commanders were changed there, so many things have already happened. It seems to me that in desperation they are ready to use any practices," he says.

"As for our actions, the Defense Forces of Ukraine are working in difficult conditions, when it is impossible to transfer many forces across the Dnipro River. At the same time, there is an understanding that it is promising to develop an offensive from here, to enter the rear and it is the shortest way to Crimea. Right now, Ukrainian soldiers are destroying as many Russian troops as possible and preventing them from building defensive fortifications. Probably to make a breakthrough further, deeper into the Kherson region, under more favorable conditions.