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Frontline update: Ukrainians prevent Russian recapture of important strongpoint in Donetsk Oblast

Russian target getting destroyed by the Ukrainian artillery. Screenshot: Youtube/@RFU
Frontline update: Ukrainians prevent Russian recapture of important strongpoint in Donetsk Oblast
Ukrainians have been successful in preventing the Russian recapture of important strongpoints through the use of tanks and artillery fire, while also targeting Russian equipment and ammunition in Donetsk, although Russians have managed to advance in the area of Novobakhmutivka.

In our daily update from the front, we pair up with the military blogger Reporting From Ukraine to update you about what’s happening on the battlefield in the Russo-Ukrainian war.

Day 418: April 17

Last time I told you that Ukrainian forces took advantage of the decreased capabilities of some Russian formations and the ongoing changes inside others and conducted a series of successful counterattacks. I also told you Ukrainians recaptured an extraordinarily important strong point in the south that dispels all Russian hopes of quickly taking Avdiivka into a pocket.

The freshest reports suggest that Russians put enormous effort into trying to recapture what they lost. Due to the unfavorable terrain for Russians, pure infantry assaults, even with artillery support, are not even considered. That is why after intense shelling, Russian immediately started using tanks to push Ukrainians out of their positions. Due to the intense fire, Ukrainians stepped one tree line back in order not to lose their men. However, they still continued preventing Russians from establishing control over the empty position. Russian sources reported that the situation was very challenging for them because the moment Ukrainians noticed Russian armor in Vodiane, they immediately sent their own tank to meet the assault unit.

Situation in Donetsk Oblast as of 18 April 2023. Map: liveuamap (event markers made transparent to retain the readability of the place names)

Recent combat footage shows a tank duel along the tree line just 1.5 km north of Vodiane. The Ukrainian tank successfully destroyed the Russian tank, forcing the crew to abandon the vehicle and flee. Judging by the number of destroyed vehicles caught in the frame, Ukrainian tank operators destroyed at least 3 Russian assault units.

Regarding the second of the two crucial strong points in front of Vodiane, Russians were less active here because attacking it is even more difficult than the previous one. Russian forces still tried to conduct reconnaissance and establish positions in close proximity to Ukrainians. However, Ukrainians reconnaissance is also working nonstop and immediately coordinates with artillery to destroy the enemy on the approach.

One of the limiting factors for the Russians is that their positions in Vodiane and Opytne are closer to Ukrainian positions than to their own. Since the fighting is taking place in the fields, Russian supply lines to these two villages are under extensive fire control and often in direct view. Recent footage shows how Russian tried to reinforce Opytne with a tank, but this tank never reached the village because it got caught by Javelin. Because the previous batch of armor got destroyed in assaults around Opytne, Russian infantry here, for the most part, is just holding positions in the trenches. Ukrainian 53rd Mechanized Brigade showed a video that some Russian units simply do not withstand constant fire and, at some point just abandon their positions.

Ukrainian artillery is also targeting Russian equipment and ammunition in Donetsk. Donets is a huge city located right next to Avdiivka, so Russians are using a lot of buildings as storage. Recently, Russian sources even published footage of their equipment being sent from some warehouse inside the city to the front, so a successful identification and destruction of such warehouses can save many lives of the soldiers on the zero line.

But despite the best efforts of Ukrainian reconnaissance and artillery crews, Russians managed to accumulate forces to the north of Avdiivka for another wave of assaults. Ukrainian sources reported that over the last two days, Russians once again tried to establish control over Stepove. Unfortunately for Russians, because this was their second attempt and there was no element of surprise, this time, Russians did not even manage to cross the rails. Today a soldier from the 10th Assault Brigade reported that today Russian attack finally ended with massive losses and a retreat. In order to decrease Russian morale even more, Ukrainian drone operators and artillery crews continued to chase Russians around the village of Krasnohorivka and also the surrounding trenches, in particular in front of the Terrikon.

The only place where Russians managed to advance over the last two weeks is in the area of Novobakhmutivka. Recent geolocated footage shows that the Ukrainian 36th Marine Brigade is trying to prevent Russians from crossing the highway. Since the Russians established positions near the destroyed bridge, for more precise fire, the marines also frequently deployed their tanks.

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