A Blog by Jonathan Low


Sep 13, 2023

Russian Defenses Collapse At Optyne, As Ukraine Force Threatens Donetsk Airport

The affects of Russian troops redeployments attempting to stem Ukraine's Tokmak advance are beginning to be felt in the country's east.

Weakened Russian defenses around Adviivka led to a Ukrainian assault which turned into a massacre when Russian artillery mistakenly fired on their own troops. retreating to Optyne. There were many Russian casualties. Ukraine now controls Optyne, which is a few kilometers from the Donetsk Airport, whose occupation is now threatened by advancing Ukrainians. JL 

Euromaidan Press reports:

Russia planned to undermine Ukraine's offensive by launching their own in Luhansk. (But), after their attempts failed and the situation on the southern front became worse, the Russians had to reinforce Tokmak. This created vulnerabilities on Avdiivka’s flank, and as Ukrainians assaulted, Russian troops abandoned their positions en masse. Russian drone operators thought 200 troops moving towards Opytne was a Ukrainian attack and called for artillery. Russians killed and wounded 61 retreating Russian soldiers. After defeating the remnants, the 53rd and 501st Brigades entered Opytne, next to Russian-occupied Donetsk Airport. 

As Ukrainians pass the second line of defense and get closer and closer to Tokmak every day, the southern front becomes almost the sole concern of the Russian High Command, which is why they have already started to relocate additional forces from all other fronts slowly.

Map: screenshot from the video

As you remember, previously, Russian forces even planned to undermine Ukrainian offensive efforts by launching their own offensive in the Luhansk region, hoping to generate a breakthrough that would force Ukrainians to disperse their troops and cancel the counteroffensive. However, after all their attempts had failed and the situation on the southern front became even worse, Russians found themselves in a position where they had to cancel their own plans and urgently reinforce the southern line.

Amid such changes, the Ukrainian command noticed that some regions became severely understaffed. Ukrainians concluded that Russians essentially drained the reserves on the eastern front and left certain areas in an extremely vulnerable position. One such vulnerable area turned out to the southern Avdiivka’s flank, and Ukrainians immediately exploited it.

Map: screenshot from the video

The main direction of Ukrainian advancement became Opytne, where Russian forces had established a small bridgehead and were planning to start storming the residential area of Avdiivka. As Ukrainians continued assaulting one tree line after another, the Russian defense started to gradually give in, and Ukrainians advanced by up to 800 meters. Russian sources started raising the alarm about the situation around Opytne and calling for urgent reinforcements. However, the front line collapsed before the Russians took any measures whatsoever because Russian forces made a grave mistake.

Map: screenshot from the video

As it turned out, Russian forces received an order to conduct a gradual and organized retreat from their positions closer toward Opytne, but due to the low morale of the soldiers, the moment they finally heard the word retreat, they did not bother to organize it and started abandoning their positions en masse. The Russian drone operators noticed up to 200 troops moving towards Opytne and thought this was a massive Ukrainian attack, which is why he called for artillery support, and the artillery started shelling the fields in front of Opytne with vicious intensity. Several hours ago, Russian sources stated that there was a horrible accident where Russian artillery killed and wounded at least 61 Russian soldiers due to the lack of coordination.

Ukrainians obviously exploited this opportunity to the fullest, and after Russians killed their own troops that defended Opytne, Ukrainians managed to defeat the remnants of the Russian forces, advancing by up to 1.5 additional km. Soon, Ukrainian officials confirmed that the 53rd and 501st Brigades elements entered the village of Opytne.

The clashes inside the village still continue because Russians understand that if they leave
it, then returning control over it would be virtually impossible.

As you can see, the village is basically cut off from the Russian side by a river, which means that Russians would have a very limited set of options for how to attack it. Russian sources reported that Russian forces reinforced this region with 1st Slavic Brigade and that their forces are already conducting counterattacks north of the village, however, other sources still say that it was too late and Russians are just conducting a controlled retreat from the village.

Map: screenshot from the video

Recently, Ukrainians also conducted a successful counterattack a little bit west of Opytne. As confirmed by the geolocated footage, Ukrainians have advanced by up to 0.5 km toward Pisky. The footage shows how Russia bombed the northern part of the village, which confirms that it is under Ukrainian control. Ukrainian fighters from this direction also released combat footage and showed how they were already attacking a Russian position in Pisky.

Map: screenshot from the video

The third axis of Ukrainian advancement is from Nevelse. Recently released geolocated footage shows how Ukrainians conducted a successful assault on Russian positions in front of the village. The assault group suppressed Russian fire, gradually approached the trenches, and then cleared them.

Map: screenshot from the video

Judging by the actions of the Ukrainian forces, Ukrainians are trying to slice off the Russian bridgehead south of Avdiivka completely.

Map: screenshot from the video

And this is extremely important because if Russian forces advance by several km north of Vodiane, then Ukrainians in Avdiivka will appear in operational encirclement. Slicing it off will annihilate more than a year of Russian effort and significantly simplify the defensive operation in and around Avdiivka.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy recently visited the front line in Avdiivka and had a personal meeting with each and every brigade that is operating in the region: with the fighters from the 109th Territorial Brigade, the titans from the famous 110th Mechanized Brigade, the marines from the 36th Brigade, the fighters from the 59th Motorized Brigade, the fighters from the 53rd Mechanized Brigade who were responsible for the massive breakthrough near Opytne, the fighters from the 79 Air Assault Brigade, and the marines from the 37th and 38th Brigades.

President Zelenskyy visiting the Donetsk sector on the front. Screenshot from the video

In order to do this, the President visited multiple checkpoints along the Dontesk front. The President made sure to hear the current challenges and needs of all forces for himself, and not from bureaucratic reports that tend to distort the real picture and hide the problems. This way, the President is in a better position to monitor how Ukrainian forces are being supplied and personally make sure that everything that can be done to facilitate the Ukrainian advancement will be done.


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