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Russians may launch another attack on Avdiivka

Russians may launch another attack on Avdiivka Russians may launch another attack on Avdiivka (Getty Images)

Avdiivka has no significant military importance, but it is like a bone in the throat bone in the throat for the Russians. That's why the occupiers may attempt to advance on the city again after unsuccessful assaults, as military expert Oleksii Hetman told RBC-Ukraine.

The Donetsk direction

Avdiivka is a certain stronghold that has been a bone in the throat for Russians since 2014 because we can have fire control over Donetsk from this city. We are not actively seeking it, but the Russians would like to set a military foothold there, though they cannot. For nine years, there have been ongoing hostilities, and they gradually try to squeeze us out of this stronghold.

It is extremely difficult for them to do this because there is a coke and chemical plant there with walls nearly one and a half meters thick and underground communications. We have long since constructed tunnels and exits, and there are people who have been fighting there with breaks since 2014, so they know every corner. It's hard for them to make progress there, but they view Avdiivka as our foothold for advancing on Donetsk. There have been several cautious statements by our officials that starting liberating Donetsk makes sense. Perhaps they got scared and decided to capture Avdiivka.

Moreover, there will be elections in Russia soon, and they need some front-line victories to boost the military courage in the country. They planned to do that at the beginning of the year in the Kupiansk-Lyman direction but they couldn't, so started preparing to try something in the winter. But they need victories right now, so they plan to do that in Avdiivka. Avdiivka has no significant military importance. If they manage to capture Avdiivka, it won't change much on the front lines.

They have no advances anywhere - neither on the Kupiansk front, nor on the Bakhmut sector, nor in the Avdiivka direction. There are no strategic goals on the entire front line. They had a strategy before the capture of Bakhmut. They planned to use it as a foothold for advancing deep into our territory, where a breakthrough of the front was planned. After that large units were supposed to move towards the Kupiansk-Lymansk direction and south to the Vuhledar group, which was supposed to move in their direction. This way, they planned to encircle our forces.

Then they changed their rhetoric about Bakhmut, and it turned out that it was no longer a foothold but the final goal. So, there are no strategic goals; their strategy is not to lose Crimea and the south. They invested a lot of effort and money in building fortifications.

They don't want to give us the opportunity to advance to the Azov Sea coast, to cut off the logistics supply from Russia to Crimea. They understand that sooner or later, we will do this. If we cut off the land route, including the Kerch Bridge, the Kherson group will be left without the ability to supply weapons, ammunition, and people. This looks like an attempt to force our leadership to transfer some forces from the southern direction to hold off their attacks in the Kupiansk and Avdiivka directions.

We didn't launch a direct assault on Bakhmut. They talked about Bakhmut as if it was almost a victory in the war, comparing it to the battle of Stalingrad. Losing Bakhmut now is emotionally unacceptable for them. Neither the civilian population inside Russia nor the servicemen on the front lines will understand them.

We chose the tactic of encircling the city from the north and south, and we've had more success from the south - that's Klishchiivka, three kilometers from Bakhmut, and Andriivka, three kilometers from Klishchiivka. We continue to advance there, controlling the logistical routes, and so on. The task is to force the Russians to surrender if they can't break out of the complete encirclement. That's why they are trying to take counteroffensive actions, attempting to drive us off the dominant heights on the positions we captured.

Zaporizhzhia direction

They are trying to prevent us from advancing. We have made some progress to the south of Robotyne, and they are attempting flanking attacks again to engage us in combat and prevent our advance. It's important to understand that we've talked about the railway, which goes Volnovakha-Tokmak-Dzhankoi. Right now, we have the railway under fire control, that's not just with 2-3 vehicles but 30-50 train cars. The railway can be destroyed, but it can be rebuilt in a few hours. So, it's not a significant issue for the Russian engineering troops.

When we physically control it, there are no other routes, so they are currently building an additional railway there. They understand that sooner or later, we will cut off this artery, and they will need something to continue transporting to Crimea. That's why they brought 5,000 servicemen to Mariupol, and I'm sure it's a construction battalion; they will be working along the coast of the Azov Sea to ensure a logistical artery. Because if we cut off both the railway and the Kerch Bridge, they won't have a way to transport supplies. What they have in their operational depots will run out in a month or two.

It is a political issue when Putin says that they need to capture the entire Luhansk and Donetsk regions. The question is about getting into more advantageous positions to attack and move forward, not about capturing the city. The military doesn't pay much attention to the political map. They look at the physical terrain and analyze their plans based on that. When discussions about administrative matters emerge, it's the politicians getting involved.

The Russians have built fortifications parallel to the railway. They are guarding the railway.

The second attempt to take Avdiivka and Kupiansk advance

In the Tavria direction, there are currently no active combat operations. It has never happened that there were active combat operations everywhere along a front line that stretches over a thousand kilometers. We knew that there would be an attack on Avdiivka, and we even knew that they would attack from the flanks, so we fortified the flanks. We blew up bridges behind them, and then in the front, trapping them. We knew there would be offensive actions because they had been gathering troops for a long time, which is impossible to do secretly in the 21st century.

There is no real ceasefire. They started an offensive in the Kupiansk direction but achieved nothing, so they are rotating and replenishing their forces to be able to recover. Right now, there will be a suspension of offensive actions in Avdiivka because they are running low on ammunition for an artillery barrage. They will replenish their supplies.

It's not necessary to say that this is a very modern Russian concept. They just tried a blitzkrieg, and it didn't work. Most likely, there will be a second wave because, during this attack, we destroyed two Russian motorized rifle regiments completely. They are recovering now, replenishing, and will try again. Avdiivka has no military strategic significance, which means it was Putin's strategic goal.

I believe that in November or late October, they will try to attack in the Kupiansk direction because troops are also amassing there. Perhaps it will be stretched into December. Klishchiivka, Andriivka, the Tokmak direction, the southern direction - there isn't as much military strength there, but there's enough for small counterattacks.