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Defense forces are capable of halting Russian advance to west of Avdiivka - ISW

Defense forces are capable of halting Russian advance to west of Avdiivka - ISW Photo: The defense forces will not allow the Russians to advance west of Avdiivka (Getty Images)

Ukrainian Armed Forces are likely to establish new defensive lines near Avdiivka, marking the culmination of the Russian advance on this section of the Russian-Ukrainian war front, according to a report by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

On February 18, the Russian Ministry of Defense reported the capture of Avdiivka by units of the Russian Central Group of Forces. They added that the invaders' forces advanced 8.6 kilometers into Ukraine and that Russian troops continue offensive operations to seize additional territories in the Donetsk region.

Several Russian military bloggers reported that Ukrainian forces lack sufficiently prepared defensive positions to the west of Avdiivka. According to them, this allegedly allows Russian forces to advance further into the western part of the Donetsk region amid the "panic" and "disorganization" in the Defense Forces after leaving the city.

"ISW has still not observed footage of disorderly Ukrainian withdrawals to support these Russian claims and would expect to observe such footage if the withdrawal was disorderly on a large scale given the normal patterns of Russian sources with access to such material," the report states.

At the same time, one Russian military blogger claimed that a large-scale collapse of the Avdiivka front is "unlikely" since the Armed Forces of Ukraine are retreating to pre-prepared defensive positions.

The ISW report also notes that Russian forces, having suffered significant losses in personnel and equipment during the capture of Avdiivka, are likely to reach the culmination of their offensive when they encounter relatively fresh Ukrainian units occupying prepared defensive positions.

Battle for Avdiivka

The Russian army launched an offensive on Avdiivka in early October 2023. During the assault, the invaders suffered colossal losses in both equipment and personnel.

On the night of February 17, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Oleksandr Syrskyi, announced the decision to withdraw Ukrainian troops from Avdiivka, which was under the threat of encirclement by the enemy.

On February 18, Russian forces attempted to storm the settlement of Lastochkyne to the west of the city, but the Defense Forces repelled 14 enemy attacks.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated that the responsibility for the fall of Avdiivka lies with Western partners who keep Ukraine in an artificial shortage of weapons and artillery shells.

Read more about the withdrawal of Ukrainian forces from Avdiivka and its impact on the front line situation in the material by RBC-Ukraine.