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Avdiivka frontline situation and reasons behind Putin's obsessed idea of city capturing

Avdiivka frontline situation and reasons behind Putin's obsessed idea of city capturing Illustrative photo (Photo: Getty Images)

The situation in Avdiivka is approaching a critical point. Russians are advancing from multiple directions, attempting to break into the urban area, while Ukrainian defenders resiliently repel the assaults.

More details on the developments on the outskirts of Avdiivka and within the city, why it has become an insistent idea for Vladimir Putin, and what to expect in the coming weeks can be found in the material from RBС-Ukraine.

In preparing this material the following information was used: statements from the General Staff, data from analysts at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) and the DeepState project, statements from the spokesperson of the 47th Magura Brigade, Dmytro Lazutkin, the head of the Avdiivka municipal military-civil administration, Vitalii Barabash, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, and comments from expert Vladyslav Seleznov.

Russia is advancing from the north and south. What's happening in Avdiivka

Analysts report partial successes of Russian forces near Avdiivka, but there is almost no official data on the matter. The Ukrainian General Staff summaries only mention that the Defense Forces are holding back the enemy, preventing attempts to encircle the city.

"Our soldiers are steadfastly holding the defense, inflicting significant losses on the invaders," stated the General Staff, adding that in the past day, Ukrainian forces repelled over 40 enemy attacks in the areas of Novobakhmutivka, Stepove, Avdiivka, Toretske, Severne, Pervomaiske, and Nevelske.

DeepState analysts report Russian assaults on the south and north of Avdiivka. There is advancement towards the quarry on the northern outskirts. Fierce battles are taking place in Pervomaiske, with intense fighting for every building. Occupiers are redirecting additional resources to solidify control over the village.

Avdiivka frontline situation and reasons behind Putin's obsessed idea of city capturing

Photo: Russians are advancing from several directions and getting closer to Avdiivka (photo from

In a report from the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW), it is mentioned that Russians are advancing along the H-20 highway Slaviansk-Mariupol on the eastern side of Avdiivka. Judging by the maps, this could be the area of advancement from Kamianka or to the south of the Vynogradnyky gardening community.

So-called Z-war correspondents claim that the occupiers have supposedly advanced near the Avdiivka Coke and Chemical Plant (AKHZ) on the northwest outskirts and near the village of Stepove. Dmytro Lazutkin, the spokesperson for the 47th brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, denies this. According to him, the front line sometimes shifts by 50-100 meters, but these are not significant changes.

"One should approach this cautiously and understand that they will not abandon attempts to cut off logistics. They failed to do so through Stepove, through Berdychiv, failed to enter the Avdiivka chemical plant because they were destroyed there," he mentions in an interview on one of the television channels.

He also emphasizes that to the north of Avdiivka, the enemy is losing personnel and equipment, does not advance in columns, but uses several IFVs with artillery support, and attacks with guided aerial bombs. According to him, the losses of the Russian army exceed Ukrainian losses by 10 times, even more in terms of equipment.

Positional battles are also ongoing in the area near the Tsarska Okhota (Lord Hunt) restaurant on the outskirts of Avdiivka. Lazutkin notes that defending the city becomes increasingly difficult each day, and currently, the Defense Forces are entering a phase that requires high concentration and management on-site. Military expert and former chief of the press service of the General Staff, Vladyslav Seleznov, explains the enemy's advance.

"It is associated with the fact that the Russians have practically total superiority in manpower, equipment, and artillery means. Plus, the aviation component is actively used," he explains in a comment to RBC-Ukraine.

What threats could Ukrainian defenders face

Two weeks ago, Russian units attempted to consolidate in residential areas in the southern part of Avdiivka. The occupiers likely still control several streets in the private sector. This concerns the area slightly north of Tsarska Okhota - Soborna Street and adjacent areas. It is a suburb where some houses are already under Russian control.

"Fighting is going on for every yard. Prepared and well-trained assault units are needed for battles in urban areas. Conducting such battles is considered the most difficult. I am not ready to talk about our capabilities, but the fact that the enemy constantly hits our defenders with artillery, mortars, and aviation is a fact. The main point that many experts note - as soon as the enemy manages to enter multi-story buildings, the situation may become critical. It hasn't happened yet, but the trends are alarming," says Seleznov.

Avdiivka frontline situation and reasons behind Putin's obsessed idea of city capturingPhoto: battles are taking place to the south of Avdiivka in the area of Tsarska Okhota, where Soborna Street is partially occupied by the enemy, and there is a threat of advancing into the residential area in the 9th quarter (

To the north, Russians have no intentions of abandoning plans to advance to the town of Khimik. There is an opinion that its capture could be a key episode significantly complicating the defense task of Avdiivka. However, according to an expert, the situation is no less threatening from the south.

"I lean towards the idea that Russians may break through to the area of the Brevno restaurant. They are advancing from the south, and that's where the main logistic road is located. The multi-story buildings start from the 9th quarter and above," he emphasizes.

Occupiers may have also partially captured the area of northern dachas. From there the road supplying the Avdiivka garrison is slightly more than one and a half kilometers, creating threats to defenders at the coke and chemical plant since the possible loss of the plant, along with a logistics hit, will significantly shake the defensive contour. According to journalist Andriy Tsaplienko, the Russians took advantage of the weather, the inability of quality aerial reconnaissance, and allegedly broke through to the city from the quarry side.

"Military personnel I spoke to are convinced that sending well-prepared reserves to reinforce the battle-ready ones in the city is sufficient, and the breakthrough can still be eliminated," he noted.

According to him, a few weeks ago, a breakthrough in the area of Tsarska Okhota was neutralized in a similar manner. The question now is whether there are reserves in the Defense Forces for reinforcement. The head of the local administration, Vitalii Barabash, confirms that the Russians managed to enter the dacha area on the outskirts but did not advance into Avdiivka itself.

"As for the advancement in the city and street fighting in Avdiivka, I do not confirm this information. That they entered the dacha area near the city - yes. But this is not urban development, not the streets of the city," he said.

Avdiivka frontline situation and reasons behind Putin's obsessed idea of city capturingPhoto: From the north, Russians are advancing towards AKHZ and the quarry area, entering the northern dachas, but street fighting has not started yet (

Vladyslav Seleznov considers the prospects of storming AKHZ a disastrous undertaking for the enemy. Massive steel and concrete structures on its territory, along with underground communications, allow the Defense Forces to move discreetly.

"No matter how many times the enemy tried to attack AKHZ, it failed. However, it is indeed trying to surround the defenders, and as soon as it can do that, cutting off the supplies will lead to quite critical situations. We remember the history of defending large enterprises in Mariupol when they were completely surrounded, and we remember how it ended. Obviously, if AKHZ is surrounded, it's unlikely to talk about holding positions for a long time. I think that's why Tsaplienko emphasizes the importance, within counterattacks, of pushing back the advanced assault units of the Russian Federation to stabilize the situation," he notes in a conversation with the news agency.

Persistent idea. Will Putin come to record an address from Avdiivka?

Despite the partial successes of the Russian army, Z-war correspondents are far from a euphoric mood. In particular, as some Telegram channels note, the Armed Forces of Ukraine not only maintain the ability to defend but also to counterattack. Meanwhile, the fact that the capture of Avdiivka has become a persistent idea is not even hidden by Vladimir Putin.

"One of the most important directions where combat actions are currently taking place is Avdiivka. A group of veterans is ahead of our regular troops; they bypassed them, broke through the defense, and reached the outskirts of Avdiivka. They captured 19 buildings and held them," he stated on January 31.

An anonymous Telegram channel, Kremlin Tabakerka, writes about Putin's plans to visit the occupied Donetsk before the March elections. Allegedly, the leader of the so-called Donetsk People's Republic, Denis Pushilin, has already received a signal about the preparation for a visit "at the highest level."

Avdiivka frontline situation and reasons behind Putin's obsessed idea of city capturingPhoto: Vladimir Putin, possibly wants to visit the occupied Donetsk and record a "victorious video" from Avdiivka (Getty Images)

It is anticipated that Putin wants to record an address against the backdrop of Western equipment from the basements of Avdiivka. The dictator believes that there are supposedly a lot of "NATO weapons," including tanks and armored vehicles, hidden in the coke and chemical plant basements. Consequently, he demands to expedite the capture of Avdiivka by early March. The task has been conveyed to the Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu and the commander of the occupation forces Valery Gerasimov, according to the channel.

Vladyslav Seleznov doubts that Putin genuinely plans a trip to record a video.

"He is very cautious about his own security. Just recall how, during the two years of the war, he visited the headquarters of the Russian military group involved in the so-called special war operation in Rostov twice or three times. Once again in Mariupol, on Arabat Spit, and that's all," he notes.

At the same time, the capture of Avdiivka is extremely important for Putin ahead of the elections.

"Avdiivka is highly publicized. Therefore, gaining control of it will create an aura of victory for the Russian army. Since the last significant successes, this army achieved were in Soledar and Bakhmut," emphasizes the expert.

What is known about the offensive capabilities of the Russian Federation and whether Avdiivka will withstand

As claimed by U.S. intelligence, from the beginning of the assaults in the Avdiivka area in October and by mid-December, the Russians lost about 13,000 personnel. Chief of Defense Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, Kyrylo Budanov, stated a significant increase in these figures for January. In a recent interview with CNN, he announced "interesting" months in the war, adding that in the next six months, the Russian offensive would stall, and an opportunity would open up for the Ukrainian forces.

Avdiivka frontline situation and reasons behind Putin's obsessed idea of city capturingPhoto: The holding of Avdiivka depends on whether the Defense Forces have sufficient resources (Getty Images)

Expert Vladyslav Seleznov notes that there are about 40,000 Russians concentrated in the Avdiivka area. Moreover, a few months ago, approximately the same number was mentioned. This means that despite incredible losses, reinforcements are arriving. Of course, the enemy continues to deplete resources, but given the large potential, it is unlikely to slow down the enemy's advance in any significant way. At least until spring.

"General Budanov emphasizes that by early March, the enemy will still have resources and will continue offensive actions. During this period, it has resource capabilities," he tells RBC-Ukraine.

In the coming weeks, this particular aspect will determine the situation in Avdiivka.

"As for enemy resources, we are more or less informed. There is no information about the capabilities of Ukrainian forces in open sources. But we see how commanders Oleksandr Tarnavskyi and Oleksandr Syrskii complain about the lack of artillery shells. I think in some other positions, we also have a deficit, which affects the battlefield. Under these conditions, making predictions like 'we will hold everything, everything will work out for us' is probably not worth it. Because fighting tanks with bare hands is possible, but the result of such confrontation is obvious... I think the enemy also feels that we lack resources, so it directs the lion's share of its forces towards Avdiivka," adds Seleznov.