ua en ru

Russians advance towards Avdiivka? Why enemy assaulting 'gateway to Donetsk': Experts on Moscow's intentions

Russians advance towards Avdiivka? Why enemy assaulting 'gateway to Donetsk': Experts on Moscow's intentions Photo: Occupiers launched a major offensive on Avdiivka, Armed Forces of Ukraine are fighting back (Getty Images)

On October 10, Russian forces began one of the most potent assaults on Avdiivka in the Donetsk region since the war started. The enemy deployed three battalions with armored support and bombarded the city, attempting to break through, but Ukrainian soldiers thwarted the aggressor's plans. The situation remains complex.

To find out more about what is happening near the city, referred to as the "gateway to Donetsk," and the Russian goals, read the report on RBC-Ukraine.

To prepare the article, the following sources were used: statements by the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the head of the Avdiivka Military Administration Vitalii Barabash, a spokesperson of the Defense Forces of the Tavria Direction Oleksandr Shtupun, as well as data from the DeepState project, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), National Guard of Ukraine, expert comments.

What is known about the advance on Avdiivka

Avdiivka is situated close to Donetsk in the northern direction and has been under defense for 9 years. The front line in this area has remained unchanged even after the start of the Russian full-scale war against Ukraine.

According to expert assessments, the city's defense is among the best within the entire combat zone. Avdiivka is a fortified area that was specifically prepared to resist enemy advances with significantly greater resources.

Occupiers have been terrorizing Avdiivka with constant shelling and have been trying to capture it for a long time. It appears that Russia wanted once again to accomplish its old plan to encircle the city.

According to the General Staff, the occupiers intensified their offensive actions in the areas of Avdiivka, Tonenke, Keramik, and Pervomaiske in the Donetsk region on October 10.

The military says the enemy is attempting to divert Ukrainian reserves to weaken the Ukrainian Defense Forces on this front.

Russians advance towards Avdiivka? Why enemy assaulting 'gateway to Donetsk': Experts on Moscow's intentions

Photo: Avdiivka on the map (DeepStateUA)

The General Staff clarified that the Russians used units from three motorized rifle brigades of the 8th Combined Arms Army.

A spokesperson of the Defense Forces of the Tavria Direction, Oleksandr Shtupun, stated that the occupiers had been repelled.

"I want to reassure everyone - all enemy attacks have been repelled up to this point. Our soldiers did not allow the enemy to break through our lines and positions. We were ready for them. Our guys have entrenched themselves well and mined the approaches. Our anti-tank measures are properly placed. Artillery is working quite accurately and powerfully," Shtupun emphasized.

He adds that the situation is currently under control. Battles are ongoing. The Russian assault's goal is to encircle Avdiivka.

"They have been trying to encircle Avdiivka for a long time. Currently, they have collected some scrap metal, personnel, and thrown it at the breakthrough," Shtupun concluded.

The occupiers launched an assault simultaneously in multiple locations, moving in columns

Analysts from the DeepState project, while characterizing the enemy's offensive on Avdiivka, note that the enemy has once again concentrated its striking force and is attempting to break through the defense of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, particularly in the areas of Vodiane and Krasnohorivka.

Initially, the Russians used artillery, aviation, and rockets on the villages and Avdiivka itself. Subsequently, the enemy employed infantry under the cover of columns of vehicles.

Russians advance towards Avdiivka? Why enemy assaulting 'gateway to Donetsk': Experts on Moscow's intentions

Photo: Occupiers moved in columns for a massive assault near Avdiivka (DeepStateUA)

The most powerful Russian attack on Avdiivka since the invasion began

According to the head of the Avdiivka Military Administration, Vitalii Barabash, such an attack in this direction has never occurred throughout the war. He explained that if Russia previously attacked with 20-25 units of equipment, it could now be asserted that a truly large-scale confrontation is beginning in the Avdiivka direction.

"The situation remains very tense. Indeed, they launched a massive offensive yesterday. Around 3 o'clock, massive shelling of positions around the city began. From the north and south, they also started targeting the industrial area," Barabash said.

According to him, the enemy used dozens of armored vehicles, but Ukrainian soldiers already destroyed a significant portion.

"Never before in a full-scale war has such a tactic been used. It was initially reported that around 50 units of equipment went on the offensive yesterday, but we know for sure that over 60 units of equipment have been destroyed on our front. A plane was shot down, and a Mi-8 helicopter was also downed," he said.

Russian losses are also shown in photos. The National Guard reported that they managed to destroy 6 enemy armored vehicles on the Avdiivka front within a day. Defenders spotted a column and attacked it with anti-tank guided missiles and drones, thereby hitting 2 tanks, 3 armored personnel carriers, and 1 armored fighting vehicle.

What experts say about the Avdiivka offensive

Military expert Vladyslav Seleznov describes Russia's offensive on Avdiivka as "truly large-scale."

"The Russians have employed aviation, mortars, and artillery in their fire impact. This includes multiple launch rocket systems. They are targeting objects of critical and social infrastructure, residential buildings. In fact, they are working on a project like Mariupol 2.0. They are ready to completely destroy Avdiivka to take it under control," Seleznov said.

He recalled that similar actions were observed during the capture of Soledar and Bakhmut.

"However, if we compare the forces and means they left and lost during this attack and the territories they captured, these figures are incomparable. Their territorial gains are not significant, but their losses are truly significant. A large amount of equipment has been destroyed, including tanks, by the appropriate countermeasures of the Ukrainian army," the expert says.

He believes that the Russians will now be forced to retreat to their previous lines and positions and begin the process of replenishing their assault units to attempt further attacks.

A military and political expert of the Information Resistance Group, Oleksandr Kovalenko, describes the overall situation as complicated and emphasizes that it has been as such since the beginning of Russia's aggression in 2014.

"What are Russian forces doing now? They partially transferred units from Lyman-Kupiansk axis, from the Luhansk region, and partially from other directions to strengthen their offensive capabilities," Kovalenko said.

According to him, the Russians may have involved units from the 90th tank division, the 41st Combined Arms Army, the 1st and 2nd army corps of the so-called Luhansk and Donetsk People's Republic, as well as Storm Z units consisting of criminals, so-called "territorial Russian forces," and a certain number of BARS.

"Avdiivka is not surrounded at all"

As explained by the expert, these units provide the aggressor with human and technical resources.

"I do not see any critical situation, as the Russian propaganda claims today. They are saying that Avdiivka is supposedly 'surrounded.' There is no such encirclement. During this day of their so-called massive offensive, they have managed to occupy several positions that do not play a crucial role on the front lines," emphasized Kovalenko.

The fact that the occupiers used a large number of aviation, conducted bombing, employed attack helicopters for long-range strikes, and carried out mass artillery bombardments within a day indicates that the Russians wanted to demonstrate the "scale of their actions."

"They tried to give it a kind of 'great offensive.' But all of this was for just a few positions and resulted in huge losses. They lost a significant amount of equipment during this attack because we were prepared for it from the beginning," the expert said.

However, the pressure on Avdiivka remains quite strong.

"Do not downplay the threats. But, the Russian offensive has not demonstrated any energy conversion efficiency for Russian occupying forces at all as of today," Kovalenko noted.

Do the Russians want to distract attention from the south

Analysts from the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW) believe that the occupiers intensified their attacks on Avdiivka to distract the Ukrainian Armed Forces from their advance in Robotyne. Expert Kovalenko also does not rule out this possibility.

"Perhaps there was such a plan because when they started their offensive actions on the Lyman-Kupiansk axis in the summer, they also attempted to partially divert our units to the Kharkiv region to reinforce our defense," the expert recalled.

But there is a catch. The Lyman-Kupiansk axis is more than 180 km wide. Conducting some significant offensive actions that could pose a threat is not feasible due to a lack of resources. Therefore, the Russian army may have tried to conduct something more significant over a smaller 20 km front to create the illusion of a major threat and force Ukrainian units to redeploy specifically to Avdiivka.

"But, I don't think there is a need to reinforce the Avdiivka foothold today. The situation changes quickly, and this should also be taken into account, but I don't see the need to do it now," Kovalenko believes.

Why does Russia want to take over Avdiivka

A General Staff spokesperson, Andriy Kovalev, says that the main goal of the invaders is to slow down or completely halt the successful Ukrainian advance on the Melitopol and Bakhmut sectors.

Besides, they are trying to encircle Avdiivka and attempt to divert Ukrainian reserve forces to the Avdiivka direction to weaken the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

As the expert explains, the occupation forces view Avdiivka from two perspectives. The first is territorial gains. The second is the forming of a "safe zone" for occupied Donetsk and beyond.

"It is making opportunities for further advancement. To reach Pokrovsk, for example. It is an opportunity for a more secure advance towards Kostiantynivka and other directions. It's a complex set of measures. Avdiivka is not just the 'gateway to Donetsk,' it's also an exit from Donetsk in other directions. That's why it's important to hold defense there," Kovalenko noted.

Will the enemy have enough strength for a breakthrough

The Russians have intensified their offensive near Avdiivka with the forces of up to three battalions supported by tanks and armored vehicles.

Military expert Vladyslav Seleznov, while assessing the enemy's capabilities, notes that one should not focus on the number of involved units but rather on the quantity of artillery and aviation assets the enemy uses to target the city.

"It is indeed a significant increase in firepower here. And we should pay attention to this factor. In today's war, the one who has an advantage in artillery has an advantage on the battlefield. Currently, the enemy is trying to transform its firepower into territorial gains," Seleznov believes.

He adds that the enemy's goal remains the complete occupation of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and that's why they are attempting to capture Avdiivka.

"Why is it important for the occupiers to take this city? Because they continue to try to implement Putin's plan for the complete occupation of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Despite the fact that they have significantly increased their firepower and intensified attacks, all these actions have not куігдеув in serious territorial gains. Instead, they suffered large losses, including armored vehicles. That's a fact," the expert concluded.