A Blog by Jonathan Low


Oct 14, 2023

Russian Media Now Reporting Offensive Assault Disaster At Avdiivka

The scale of the Russian debacle at Avdiivka is so astounding that Russian media are beginning to report it in relatively unfiltered updates that spare no criticism of the strategic and tactical failure to which their forces have been subjected. JL 

Kos reports in Daily Kos:

Ukraine claims to have destroyed nearly 300 armored vehicles the last three days. The latest update claimed another 26 tanks, 49 armored infantry vehicles, and 44 artillery. "Our counter-battery fire still cannot suppress long-range Ukrainian self-propelled guns, constantly changing positions, delivering attacks from distances where our artillery does not reach, pinning our infantry to the ground. It is obvious that a "return" to offense after a year of defense is not easy for the troops (who) have grown into trench warfare, and are not attacking confidently."More video is emerging from Russia’s disastrous assault on the city of Avdiivka, and Russian sources are starting to blab about the results of their attacks.

So far, Ukraine claims to have destroyed nearly 300 armored vehicles the last three days. We’ve discussed those claims in the last two Ukraine Updates here and here, and here is the Ukraine Defense Ministry’s latest update, which says that the country claimed another 26 tanks, 49 armored infantry vehicles, and 44 artillery guns.

While open-source intelligence sources haven’t visually confirmed all those losses, there has been a torrid stream of battle videos proving massive Russian losses. You can find some of them here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

In one of the more gruesome crowdfunding efforts I’ve ever see, one Russian volunteer is raising money for food and … body bags:

And in this one, a friend of the now-imprisoned (but for the wrong reasons) war criminal Igor Girkin is begging for doctors.

Our troops are trying to take Avdeevka. It is from there that most of the shelling of Gorlovka and Donetsk comes, it is there that the most powerful fortified area of the creatures [Ukrainians] is located. They are the most responsible for the killed civilians, including children from the "Alley of Angels". If Avdeevka is not taken, the shelling will continue, children will continue to be killed. Our guys are suffering losses; there is a catastrophic shortage of surgeons in Gorlovka and Donetsk. We ask all doctors (primarily surgeons and resuscitators) who have a conscience and remember their medical oath to find the opportunity to take a vacation and go to Gorlovka Hospital No. 2 for at least a couple of weeks and help with the treatment of the wounded. We will help you resolve logistical issues.

It goes without saying, but Ukraine does not target civilians in Donetsk. All you have to do is see how the city, at the edge of the frontlines, is left standing, unlike Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and so many other cities in Russia’s warpath. But propagandists have to justify their criminal invasion somehow. “We are critically low on surgeons for our war of imperial conquest” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

Here’s another Avdiivka update from a Russian source:

About the situation near Avdeevka.

It didn't work out quickly to surround it. If the northern wing powerfully moved forward and by the end of the day occupied a strategically important height - the waste heap at Coke factory, then the south ran into the Ukrainian defense, began to act in a stereotypical manner, suffered losses and, in the end, failed to cope with the task. The command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces almost immediately assessed the scale of the threat and began to transfer human reserves and artillery here, even using expensive Himars to strike our advancing infantry and stabilized the situation by morning.

By this morning, the operation had taken on, already familiar in this war, character of a "battle for the forester's hut" - heavy battles for each strong point. Berdychi, Stepove and Opytne act as the "forester's hut". There is a continuous exchange of artillery strikes. Despite having a significant superiority in the number of artillery, our counter-battery fire still cannot effectively suppress long-range Ukrainian self-propelled guns, which are constantly changing their positions, delivering their attacks from distances where our artillery practically does not reach, covering our attacking formations and pinning the infantry to the ground. Although the work of the Lancets [suicide drones] is effective, their response speed does not allow them to quickly "shut up" the Ukrainian artillery. "Lancets" are more "hunters" than "response". When the front will finally see systems capable of effectively and efficiently fighting Ukrainian artillery, one can only guess.

In the next 24 hours, we can expect powerful counterattacks by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, which will try to recapture lost positions. The command will decide to what extent it is now necessary to continue the assault on Avdeevka, or to transfer active operations to another direction, but it is obvious that a "return" to offensive tactics after almost a year of defense is not easy for the troops. The units have grown into trenches, into trench warfare, and are not yet attacking very confidently. The problem has been well known since the First World War. And this once again confirms the need to form special assault units «focused" on offensive tactics, which are capable of decisively moving forward and breaking through the enemy's defenses. The same units that have stood on the defensive for a year need to be "swinged up" and accustomed to attacking actions, taking them to the rear for training and training them to attack the enemy correctly and effectively…

🇷🇺It is obvious that such local offensive operations are a "test of strength" of our groups before a serious offensive. But it is possible to move into it only when the army is fully ready for such tasks. So far, the experience of the assault on Avdeevka does not allow us to be considered ready for such work.

And here is the latest about Avdiivka from prominent Russian war blogger Murz:

My pessimism regarding the assault on Avdeevka is based on my knowledge of fairly simple things from the field of military affairs and in practice similar operations that have already happened during the SMO.

The main caliber of our brigade and corps artillery is now 152 mm. And its main projectile is an ordinary high-explosive fragmentation projectile. Normal concrete fortifications can withstand even a direct hit, but a direct hit still needs to be achieved - the barrels of our artillery are pretty worn out. Again, I wrote about the weight difference of 152 mm charges produced this year. [He’s talking about previous reports that Russian artillery forces are receiving 152 mm shells weighing entire kilos outside of spec, which means it is impossible to fire them accurately.]

So counting the hours of artillery preparation or, in general, "artillery activity", and from this measuring the possibility of success is not a good idea. Just firing and plowing all the surrounding fields won't help much, it's been tested. The 29th checkpoint, which was taken by the 4th Brigade at the beginning of the SMO, is an excellent confirmation of this. The fields around it were all dug up. Aaaand?

Ukrops were filling everything there with concrete during the Minsk agreements right before our eyes; shooting at these fortworks was prohibited then. And ukrops are skilled in fort work and have dug in very well. …

Therefore, the main possible positive result in this direction, in addition to simply drawing back the ukrop reserves, is to "compress the perimeter" in those places where the ukrops could not conduct large-scale fortification works.

And the saddest thing that is possible is that this deceptively successful "squeeze" will spur the desire of the comrade generals to quickly take Avdeevka. And the troops will "beat on concrete with their heads" until they run out. Because we have an excellent approach. Just remember the anecdote about a Soviet young specialist who is not allowed to go abroad, "What do you need to start a family? One woman and nine months? There is not that much time! We give 9 women and 1 month!" Attempts to compensate for the impossibility of targeted firing with large calibers by piling shells "somewhere there" using everything that is available is precisely that. And it doesn't work.

So it's not hard to understand why the "red arrow trade" … pisses me off. [He’s talking about war bloggers who mark up maps with red arrows of glorious Russian advances that simply don’t exist.] Because the promotion by media of the theme "Now we're about to take everything, ura-ura", it leads to the fact that under the pressure of the media, which in turn generates pressure from top to bottom, in the army people are forced to take "all of this" in a situation when it is necessary to gain a foothold, repel counterattacks and build a mechanism for exploiting the modest successes achieved - a mechanism for increasing the very "price of staying in Avdeevka" [for Ukrainians].

Russian sources continuously confirm our coverage of Ukraine’s artillery superiority. And as I wrote yesterday, even if Ukrainian defenders at Avdiivka were caught by surprise, Ukraine’s short interior lines of communication mean that Ukraine can quickly shift forces from one front to another, in a matter of hours. As I explained:

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.

Meanwhile, Russia’s big victory thus far has been the capture of a garbage dump northwest of Avdiivka. You’ll be happy to hear that this meager consolation prize is no longer in Russia’s hands. As the tweet above makes clear, what had been translated as “waste heap” is actually a coal spoil tip—waste removed during mining. Not as funny as Russians capturing a garbage dump, but accuracy is important!


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