A Blog by Jonathan Low


Apr 20, 2024

Ukrainians Repel Russian Durna River Crossing Attempts Near Avdiivka

Ukrainian defenders using drones, artillery and ambush counterattacks have repelled repeated Russian attempts to cross the Durna River near Avdiivka. 

This follows a pattern of undermanned and ammo starved Ukrainians thwarting Russian attempts to advance across the front since December. With more aid now hopefully on the way, opportunities to counterattack should improve. JL 

Euromaidan Press reports:

The Russians tried to cross the Durna river around Semenivka, near Avdiivka. The Russians are limited by suitable crossing points over the river which makes counterattacks easier for the Ukrainians. The Ukrainians destroyed Russian transport and armor with artillery and drone-dropped grenades. The Russians were struggling to hold their positions due to the large number of drones Ukrainians were using. Drone operators from the 3rd Assault Brigade also destroyed a sizeable Russian munition depot in the center of Orlivka. Russian soldiers published a video claiming they were the only 15 soldiers of their  company who survived the assault. A Russian company is usually 150 soldiers.

Today, there are a lot of updates from the Avdiivka direction. Here, Russians have advanced through the fields behind Avdiivka and are attempting to cross the Durna River and break through the next Ukrainian line of defense.

As you remember from the previous report, after the Russians took control over the settlements in the fields, they tried to cross the Durna river in as many places as possible. Most of these crossings are situated around the Ukrainian settlement of Semenivka.

This makes Semenivka a natural target for Russian forces. Ukrainian and Russian soldiers in the area both state that Russians are actively trying to breach the Ukrainian defense here and establish a bridgehead in the settlement.

Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Oleksandr Syrskyi recently stated that Ukrainian forces had completely rotated their elements, which had already been fighting in the direction of Avdiivka for over two years. This allows the Ukrainian formations to recuperate and recover their losses so they can be ready to fight another day. In contrast, the newly arrived Ukrainian brigades are well-rested and ready to defend against the Russian attacks.


A Russian military blogger claimed that Russian forces are trying to take control of the Ukrainian lines of communication in Semenivka. This is not surprising, as the Ukrainian defenses behind the river are supported by a good road network, which significantly improves Ukrainian logistics.

This allows not only easier transportation of ammunition, wounded, and reinforcements to and from the front but also makes counterattacks easier and more effective for the Ukrainian defenders.

Ukrainian lines of communication are in yellow. Screenshot from Reporting from Ukraine video

Russians, however, stay severely limited in their attack vectors, as they are limited by the suitable crossing points over the river. In preparation for their attacks, Russians are concentrating their forces in the newly occupied settlement of Orlivka.

Russians use crossing points over river for attacks. Screenshot from Reporting from Ukraine video

To prevent this build-up of forces, Ukrainians use two different tactics.

Firstly, drone operators use FPV-kamikaze drones, together with artillery crews, to monitor and destroy observed Russian movements and positions in the settlement. Ukrainians have released over a dozen geolocated combat videos showcasing such attacks on Russian infantry, vehicles, and hideouts.

Ukrainian FPV drone attacks near Orlivka. Screenshot from Reporting from Ukraine video

Secondly, Ukrainians perform surprise counterattacks on the settlement, ambushing Russian infantry who feel they are purely on the offensive. The well-known 3rd Assault Brigade released geolocated combat footage, showing how they quickly set up and executed such an attack. As a result, they destroyed the Russian position and managed to pull back to safety before other Russian forces could react.

Despite these efforts, a Ukrainian officer active in the area stated that Russian forces seem to be able to at least partially replace and reinforce these lost detachments.

Russians likely use the old Avdiivka chemical plant as a transit point from where they can quickly reinforce their positions closer to the frontline.

The Avdiivka chemical plant gave Ukrainians a significant defensive advantage during the battle for Avdiivka. The solid industrial construction and the many rooms and basements provide excellent cover against artillery fire and drones. Russians seemingly use these features in the same way as a forward operating base for their offensive operations to the North and East.

Russians use captured Avdiivka plant for assaults. Screenshot from Reporting from Ukraine video

Ukrainian soldiers active in the area stated that Russians were actively shelling their positions with 120-millimeter mortar shells in preparation for the Russian attack.

At the same time, Russians had also concentrated enough forces in Orlivka to launch several attacks over the Durna river. Russian military bloggers claim that these attacks were successful. They state that Russian forces consolidated positions on the western river bank and entered the first buildings of Semenivka from the South.


Other Russian military bloggers were more skeptical and stated that while Russians had entered Semenivka, Ukrainians were actively launching counterattacks on their positions.

Ukrainian forces, however, later released geolocated combat footage of multiple waves of Russian attacks.

The first wave consisted of 6 armored vehicles and numerous infantry. The Russian armor first rushed through the fields and over the crossing as fast as possible in an attempt to avoid the Ukrainian artillery fire.

Orlivka Semenivka Avdiiva Russian attacks
Russian armored vehicles attempt to enter Semenivka. Screenshot from Reporting from Ukraine video

This did not work out well for two of them, as Ukrainians destroyed one armored vehicle with artillery fire while disabling another one with a drone.

The remaining Russian armor then quickly dropped off their infantry in the Southern part of the settlement and continued their advance, flanking the Ukrainians and providing fire support to the Russian infantry. Ukrainians countered this by opening fire on the flanking Russian armor, destroying what was left.

The geolocated footage then continues to show grenade drops from Ukrainian drones on Russian infantry that had taken up positions in the settlement. Ukrainian drones also observed Russian transport and armored vehicles while they were dropping off more Russian infantry, which Ukrainians then promptly destroyed with artillery and drone-dropped grenades as well.

Orlivka Semenivka Avdiiva Russian attacks
Footage shows Ukrainian grenade drops on Russian positions. Screenshot from Reporting from Ukraine video
A prominent Russian military blogger confirmed that Ukrainian forces were launching counterattacks on the southern part of Semenivka, consisting of platoon-sized assault groups with artillery support. He also noted that Russians were struggling to hold their positions in Semenivka due to the large number of drones Ukrainians were using to strike their positions.

Ukrainian forces also released geolocated combat footage showing how they continued to hit Russian forces in Orlivka.

The Ukrainian Third Assault Brigade hit a group of Russian infantry with cluster munitions, a garage with infantry with a heavy FPV-kamikaze drone, and at least nine more Russian infantry with FPV drones. Drone operators from the Volyn border detachment also hit a group of Russian infantry seeking shelter on the outskirts of the settlement.

Lastly, the drone operators from the third assault brigade also destroyed a sizeable Russian munition depot in the center of Orlivka, severely crippling further Russian attacks in this direction.

Exploding Russian munitions depot. Screenshot from Reporting from Ukraine video, via 3d Assault Brigade

In the aftermath of the attacks, a group of Russian soldiers published a video claiming they were the only 15 soldiers of their whole company who survived the assault on Semenivka. In comparison, a Russian company is usually around 150 soldiers strong.

This would mean that the current survival rate for this Russian company is 10% and will likely drop even more as Ukrainians continue hunting them down. The soldiers also claimed that their commanders were accusing them of desertion for refusing to conduct further attacks.


Overall, the Russian claims of territorial gains and a bridgehead over the Durna river were overstated, as the Russian presence seems temporary.

Orlivka Semenivka Avdiiva Russian attacks
Holding.a bridgehead over the Durna river was challenging for the Russians. Screenshot from Reporting from Ukraine video

Holding the bridgehead on the other side of the river proved to be extremely challenging, and with such a low survival rate, the expansion of this bridgehead seemed to be impossible at this time. Ukrainian counterattacks and drone strikes have successfully halted Russian advance and completely obliterated Russian assault units to the point that even some Russian soldiers started refusing their orders to attack.

Orlivka Semenivka Avdiiva Russian attacks
Ukrainian counterattacks thwart Russian assault on Semenivka. Screenshot from Reporting from Ukraine video

Without any significant change in the situation, Russian forces will remain unable to conceive a sizeable breakthrough over the river.


Post a Comment