Yesterday, gleeful news emerged of massive Russian losses in two attempted advances outside of Kreminna and Donetsk on the eastern front. Ukrainian general staff claimed 125 destroyed pieces of equipment, while one open source intelligence analyst, or OSINT, confirmed 42. Later in the day, another OSINT analyst counted 34, though he subsequently posted a list with an additional 16 armored vehicles destroyed, pushing the total to 52 (and still counting).
More information about Russia’s disaster continues to emerge.
Avdiivka is a particularly sore spot for Russia, as it is literally located on the outskirts of Donetsk, the regional capital of Donetsk oblast.
Russia has been pushing on this front since 2014 to no avail, and in recent days, Ukraine actually advanced along these lines. There is no river or other natural barrier, other than wide open fields defoliated from eight years of constant war, to protect Ukrainian defensive positions, yet they’ve held. This attack was clearly Russia’s attempt to finally deal with that open sore.
Tatarigami_UA claims to be a reserve military intelligence officer in the Ukrainian army, and has a well-established history of providing solid analysis of ongoing events. His thread on Russia’s Avdiivka advance is excellent. I’ll reproduce here, omitting hard-to-read satellite imagery you can see for yourself in his thread:
On October 10th, Russian forces launched a ground offensive from Krasnohorivka and Vodiane, aiming to encircle Avdiivka. This assault featured an unusual use of armored vehicles, departing from their prior reluctance in large-scale armored attacks.
The significant number of tanks and APCs highlights the Russian forces’ intention for swift and overwhelming offensives on the flank and rear. They used artillery, air support, and their armored units to suppress, overrun, and at times, capture Ukrainian positions.
Yet, Russian forces’ advance decelerated. Despite reaching the northeast of Stepove, a rear area of Avdiivka, they faced minefields, anti-tank resistance, and artillery fire, resulting in significant losses and hindering their ability to exploit their initial success.
Our most conservative estimate suggests that the Russian side suffered a minimum of 36 vehicle losses, which include abandoned, damaged, or destroyed vehicles. These losses predominantly consist of APCs, tanks of various configurations, and transportation vehicles.
It is premature to say whether Russian forces will achieve substantial advances in the upcoming days, given the challenging situation for both sides. However, it is already clear that the assault has proven to be highly costly for the attacker.
A rarity these days, Russia has enjoyed heavy artillery superiority during this attack. But if it hasn’t happened already, Ukraine will soon counter it. Its interior lines of communication means that it can quickly shift resources from one direction to another in a matter of hours.
For context, the distance from Orikhiv, north of the big Ukrainian advance around Robotyne, to Prokovsk, 60 kilometers (37 miles) west of Avdiivka, is 120 kilometers (75 miles).
In other words, we’re talking a two- to three-hour drive, depending on road conditions. Once at Prokovsk, those artillery guns are just one to two hours from their firing positions. And once deployed, Ukraine’s superior artillery advantages can eliminate Russia’s supporting guns, just like they have decimated Russian artillery elsewhere along the front. And if moving equipment isn’t already hard enough for Russia, Ukraine just severed one of the main highways supplying their Avdiivka advance.
Russian war blogger Romanov essentially confirmed what Tatarigami reported, saying that Russian forces advanced north of town but were then unable to hold those positions. “During the breakthrough to Berdychi-Petrovsky [next-door to Stepove], it was not possible to fully gain a foothold; the fighting continues, including with the approaching reserves of the Ukrainian Armed Forces,” he wrote. “The enemy’s reserves arrived, and a breakthrough was made only on the northern flank, but on the southern flank there are no changes … The frontal attack on Avdeevka yielded only slight progress.”
If Russia’s goal was to take some pressure off the southern Zaporizhzhia front or the Bakhmut approach, then mission accomplished. But that relief would be temporary at best, and their loss of life and equipment hardly seems worth the brief respite. As such, this feels like more than a diversion. Given the amount of manpower and equipment deployed, it’s clear that Russia is making a serious effort to advance before mud season, betting that Ukraine is no longer able to advance in Zaporizhzhia. Otherwise, these forces would be held in reserve.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian general staff just dropped a new count claiming an additional 42 tanks and 44 armored infantry vehicles destroyed today. Additionally, they claim 32 artillery kills, which could very well be Ukrainian counter-battery efforts around Avdiivka. OSINT sources confirmed about half of yesterday’s claims. Hopefully, these numbers are accurate and visually confirmed. For starters, here are five tanks and three infantry vehicles:
Also, we have several videos of Russian forces getting hit by Ukraine while retreating back to friendly positions.
The two videos above prove once again that Ukraine does have air support. You don’t need F-16s to provide close-air support. Drones do the job better these days. (F-16s will be good for standoff capabilities—fielding long-range anti-air and anti-ship missiles, pushing Russian air and naval assets further back.)
How about one more video:
Meanwhile, 32,000 people once lived in Avdiivka. Can you believe that several hundred civilians still live there, despite nine years of constant bombardment?
Russia’s Olympic Committee has been suspended for trying to annex Ukrainian sporting federations in occupied Ukraine. While they and Belarus won’t be allowed to compete in the upcoming 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, there is still no decision on whether Russian and Belarussian athletes will be allowed to compete under a neutral flag.
The answer should be an easy “no.”
This was hilarious:
This video of Israeli Iron Dome air defenses intercepting Hamas rockets is mesmerizing:
There’s a reason that Ukraine fantasizes about fielding this system. It would render Russia’s drone attacks obsolete around key population centers. Unfortunately, there aren’t many of these expensive systems around, and their range is limited (70 kilometers), so they could never provide full-country coverage for Ukraine.
Someone is starting to realize they f’d up terribly.