The city of Avdiivka is a fortress. The Russians suffered heavy losses but were able to take important positions. Now the defenders have to stop them. If the Russians advance further, there is a risk of a second Bakhmut – on a much larger scale.
Since Hamas’ terror attack on Israel, the war in Ukraine has receded into public view. And yet it continues with undiminished severity. In the Kherson area, the Ukrainians have successfully crossed the Dnieper and are trying to expand their bridgeheads. Fighting continues even at the site of the deepest Ukrainian breakthrough of the summer offensive. Kiev puts pressure on the Russian positions at Robotyne and Werbowe, but suffers heavy losses and makes no significant gains. West of Robotyne they managed to take a line of trees from the Russians.
The Russians suffered even greater losses in the Battle of Avdiivka, but they were able to capture important Ukrainian positions. Avdiivka is a city in Donbass, not far from the separatist stronghold of Donetsk. The Ukrainians have turned the city into an impregnable fortress since 2014 and yet have found themselves in a threatening situation. You are threatened with a Bakhmut in XXL. Why is that? The city’s fortifications are difficult to overcome, but the Russians were in an excellent position when they launched their major attack. The city was already surrounded on three sides. In Bakhmut it took months of costly fighting before Moscow was able to reach such a starting position.
Just a few kilometers
The Russians have been trying to advance the encirclement for weeks. Instead of storming the fortress, they want to cut it off. To do this, they must further restrict Ukrainians’ access. At the start of the fighting, the Russians lost well over 100 armored vehicles in just a few days. Huge losses, but Kiev also lost around 50 armored vehicles in the Robotyne area in two weeks – without any tangible success.
The Russians, on the other hand, were able to advance about two kilometers. Two kilometers is not much, but it is significant given the narrow land corridor under Ukrainian control. Above all, the Russian armed forces managed to advance on the industrial area in the north of the city. There is a huge industrial plant there, a coking plant. It is held by Kyiv. Just a short distance away, a slag heap rises from the factory’s waste. This heap is the dominant height in the north. If the Russians manage to hold the already conquered space around the dump, they will then build fortified positions on the piles of rubble, then they will have full visibility and fire control over the entire factory.
Few access roads
The Ukrainian defenders face the challenge of keeping their supply routes clear. But only one road with a closed carriageway leads to Avdiivka, all other access routes are second-class roads without a solid surface, which are increasingly turning into bottomless mud paths. The solid road leads to the town of Orlivka. If the Russians succeed in conquering the nearest villages in the north and southwest of the city, access will be threatened.
In the north these would be the settlements Stepove and Berdychi, in the southwest Sjeverne and the neighboring town of Tonen’ke. These small towns are located on ridges, the road runs in the lowlands between them. If the villages fall, this access road will be visible and will be under Russian fire control. If that were to happen, the fall of the fortress would only be a matter of time.
Ukraine: Drones decide the war here
The Russian lines are sometimes less than two kilometers from the towns. Despite all the preparations, the Avdiivka Kiev Fortress is currently of little use. Fighting takes place in fields, around rows of trees and small settlements. Here the defenders have to stop the Russians. A tough defense will bring more casualties to the Russians, but sooner or later they will be able to push the Ukrainians back. There isn’t much space left, Kiev can’t lose either the villages or the coking plant. Kiev needs to regain the initiative in the area.
The fighting has been stagnating for about seven days. But that only has temporary meaning. The Russians fortify their gains and regroup. Once that happens, they will attack the locations. To do this, they essentially want to rely on fighters from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and units from “Storm Z”. In earlier times, the zones of the hardest fighting could be identified by the fact that armored divisions were moved there. In the war in Ukraine, the units with the best drone pilots are sent to the most hotly contested zones.
Politically, the fall of Avdiivka would be a catastrophe. The Ukrainians’ entire summer offensive only resulted in the liberation of a handful of settlements. The larger objectives of the operation (encircling Bakhmut, breaking through to the sea, liberating at least Tokmak) were missed. Not a city was conquered. If the Russians succeed in doing this again, belief that Kiev can defeat the Russians would continue to diminish at home and abroad.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.