ua en ru

'We cannot keep it going alone': How 47th Brigade crushes Russian troops near Avdiivka

'We cannot keep it going alone': How 47th Brigade crushes Russian troops near Avdiivka Ukrainian mortar launchers (photo: Vitalii Nosach/RBC-Ukraine)

The 47th Brigade became a deterrent shield against the Russian occupiers' offensives in the hottest spots of the front. They withstood the counteroffensive in Zaporizhzhia, the battles for Avdiivka and the Coke Plant, and withdrew to new frontiers. Read RBC-Ukraine's report from the front lines of the Avdiivka direction.

Avdiivka is another Ukrainian fortress. For months, the city has been the scene of fierce fighting, with Russians deploying thousands of vehicles and manpower to besiege this section of the frontline, bombarding Ukrainian positions with guided aerial bombs and chemical weapons.

The coke plant was associated with Azovstal, as it became another stronghold that the Russians could not conquer. In the end, due to the catastrophically unequal forces, Ukrainian soldiers were forced to retreat to new frontiers.


Frontline cities are being destroyed by the Russians methodically and ruthlessly. In the town we arrived, there were almost no locals left because there was nowhere else to live. The houses along one of the main streets have turned into ruins, in which you can still guess the features of a past life: a children's room, a torn-out wall, and scattered toys and picture books. There are also lamps and photos of children whose lives were cut short by the Russian strike.

'We cannot keep it going alone': How 47th Brigade crushes Russian troops near AvdiivkaPhoto: RBC-Ukraine

It is seen how life in the city stopped, in the pieces of buildings you can recognize a cafe where a miraculously surviving cup on the table is still standing. In the middle of the destroyed city, we meet the soldiers of the 47th Brigade.

The chief sergeant of the machine gun platoon with the call sign Herf tells us that he used to live nearby.

- Since the beginning of the Russian invasion, I was forced to move my family out of the Donetsk region. After that, I lost half of my property, and windows and doors were blown out.

- Is your home under occupation now?

- No, not at the moment, but it's close.

Next to Herf is his brother-in-arms with the call sign Joker, who is the commander of a mortar group. The man immediately talks about the weapon - he says it is quite effective, but the Russians rely on human resources. Meat assaults continue and the Russian occupiers have no sentiments in this matter.

'We cannot keep it going alone': How 47th Brigade crushes Russian troops near AvdiivkaPhoto: RBC-Ukraine

- So that you understand how this happens. A Russian was walking across the field towards us. He believed that his comrades were sitting there, waiting for him to bring the ammunition, although they were no longer there because we destroyed them. He just goes like meat. He passes through if he is not shot at, and then a group of three men follows him. And it's up to us to decide whether to kill this one or, as a fisherman would say, to "bait" him and destroy the whole group.

Mortar launchers

The road closer to the front is almost impassable and looks more like the surface of the moon. Huge sinkholes are visible everywhere and rumbling sounds can be heard, while Russian aircraft occasionally drop guided bombs. The driver nervously presses on the gas, and a particularly dangerous section begins, very close to the position of the Ukrainian mortar gunners.

- Quick, to the basement!

Under the endless roar of the bombs, we quickly run for cover. The once-ordinary basement has now turned into a location for our fighters. As soon as we enter, we feel the warmth and smell of coffee being brewed in an old metal kettle.

'We cannot keep it going alone': How 47th Brigade crushes Russian troops near AvdiivkaPhoto: RBC-Ukraine

While we are warming up, the soldiers tell us how they got into the Armed Forces and what they think about the war. One of the soldiers, mortar battery commander Denys Salikhov with callsign Ceasar, says the situation is difficult, but no one is going to give up.

- In fact, we have already gone through a lot. A counter-offensive in Zaporizhzhia, then Avdiivka, and the brigade has been formed only a little over a year. So we have already shown that we can do something. We will continue to show it. Right, Andrii?

In response, the fighter with the callsign Pechkin smiles and nods. When asked if they are tired, one of the fighters looks at the other and laughs: "Does anyone ask us?"

In just one day, the Russians can drop up to 100 guided aerial bombs in this area. Of course, we are tired, but no one can retreat, says Caesar.

- I believe that it is better to wear the heavy armor of a warrior than the light collar of a slave. And no one else can do it now except us. But we can say hello to the guys who are sitting in Bukovel (a popular ski resort in Ukraine - ed.) so that they can pack their bags and go to the 47th Brigade. As long as they have time and choice to do so.

When the situation becomes calmer, the soldiers get to work. In the yard of someone's property, among the piles of bricks and pieces of windows and doors, there is an M-120 mortar in disguise. It is skillfully handled by the chief sergeant of the battery with the call sign Miasnyk (the butcher - ed.). He says his call sign and immediately says, with irony in his voice, that he probably shouldn't explain why he chose this nickname. The man carefully removes the camouflage from his weapon and shows where the sights are mounted.

'We cannot keep it going alone': How 47th Brigade crushes Russian troops near AvdiivkaPhoto: RBC-Ukraine

- How do you calculate the coordinates?

- Using a special calculation program for artillerymen. We are given the coordinates of the target. I enter them into the program and it calculates. Then I set the mine we are working with. The Americans wanted to borrow it from us, but we didn't give it back," says Miasnyk and smiles with satisfaction.

The sound of a drone is heard overhead. We fall silent and reflexively press our heads into our shoulders because it could be a Russian attack, but the man reassures us: "Ours, ours." When the reconnaissance is over, the soldier is given a command over the radio, and the mortar fires a loud volley. A minute later it becomes known that the projectile hit the target.


In another front-line town wiped out by the Russians, we meet the infantryman with the call sign Halo. We find a foundation on which there is almost no glass to sit on. In the background, cats scream, because residents left them, fleeing from shelling, and now there is no one to feed them in an empty city. Only the military share their dry rations with him.

Halo says that battles sometimes take place even 30 meters from the positions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The Russian occupiers come as close as possible and cannot always be seen, therefore, when the battle is over, sweeps take place from time to time, when individual Russians are caught up almost at Ukrainian positions.

'We cannot keep it going alone': How 47th Brigade crushes Russian troops near AvdiivkaPhoto: RBC-Ukraine

- You don't think much beyond 30 meters of the front. It's either you or them. You just see the enemy and shoot, and that's it. You don't even think too much. You do everything you can to prevent them from advancing and to keep yourself safe.

Ukrainian soldiers spend several days at positions close to the front. All this time they may not even drink water.

- You can not eat or drink there for two or three days. You close your eyes as if you are sleeping, but in fact, you are not. Because you constantly listen to all kinds of rustling, the sounds of coming and going.

Our conversation is interrupted by the sound of a siren. In this city, for some reason, it is very loud - not like in other cities, which are further from the front. To the sounds of the signal, Halo says that Ukrainian society is somewhat relaxed because it does not see what is happening here - near the front.

- Out of habit, they relaxed. Until they see with their own eyes, for example, what is happening here because the Russians have come closer, nothing will stimulate them. Just walk around the destroyed houses, and see what is happening here. We are not going to last forever either. They to donate and help. We cannot keep everything going alone.

Scouting birds

It is already dark when we drive to the positions of aerial reconnaissance birds who are watching the enemy around the clock. The driver puts on a thermal imager because it is very dangerous to turn on the headlights near the contact line, so the road is illuminated only by the full moon.

The basement, where the fighters are stationed, resembles a small observation headquarters: monitors are placed everywhere, showing the front line, the movement of equipment, and Russian manpower. A group of UAV operators with the call signs Maestro, Historian, and Arrakis - gathered here.

After completing the reconnaissance, the fighters show us the drone video - the footage shows fields with scorched spots and pieces of trees under which the enemy is hiding. An attack drone aims its sights and fires a round, and in a second the occupier is covered by a mushroom of fire. After the dust dissipates, it becomes clear how the Russian is stretched out on the ground, and not far from him are his combat colleagues who have been piled on top of each other in advance.

'We cannot keep it going alone': How 47th Brigade crushes Russian troops near AvdiivkaPhoto: RBC-Ukraine

The drone goes higher and we see that the bodies of the Russian occupiers cover the entire field. Tomorrow, others will take their place and walk over their corpses. Maestro points to the monitor and recalls another story.

- There was a case. Three Russians came to take their wounded, they had already dragged him 50 meters and changed their minds. They left him, took his blanket and weapons from under him, and left. He started crawling after them. They sat down under a tree to rest, and here we were. In general, only one of them was lucky under the tree.

Late at night, we returned from the positions. The frontline is a hard and cruel place, which is difficult to describe, no matter how long you have been here. The Russians are not inventing anything fundamentally new, their main strategy is to use human resources as long as necessary to capture another village or city.

'We cannot keep it going alone': How 47th Brigade crushes Russian troops near AvdiivkaPhoto: RBC-Ukraine

Ukrainian military personnel who agree to talk to journalists describe the war in different ways. Experienced "wolves" joke and tell stories, while young fighters are enthusiastic about their weapons and newly acquired skills. They are united by two things: fatigue and appeals to civilians not to forget about the war because, without everyone's involvement, it will be extremely difficult to win it.