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Frontline report: Russian mechanized assaults fail in the Avdiivka direction

Destroyed Russian armor in the area of Nevelske-Pervomaiske in the Avdiivka direction, Donetsk Oblast. Photo: screenshot from a Reporting From Ukraine video
Frontline report: Russian mechanized assaults fail in the Avdiivka direction
Russian assaults near Nevelske and Pervomaiske in the Avdiivka direction, Donetsk Oblast, were thwarted by strong Ukrainian defenses, resulting in heavy losses of Russian tanks and armored vehicles.

Day 452: May 21

Today there are a lot of updates from the Avdiivka direction. Here, over the last week, Russian forces conducted a series of massive assaults. They used many tanks and armored fighting vehicles to reinforce up to four full assault squads. Russians concentrated most of their efforts in the southern direction, and their main goal was to widen the bridgehead simultaneously in 2 directions: towards Pervomaiske and Nevelske.

Ukrainians started noticing the accumulation of forces and gradual intensification of actions already 10 days ago. Russians were relocating their equipment through Pisky via a very convenient highway.

Shortly after, Russian forces conducted a probing attack south of Nevelse to see whether Ukrainians improved their defense in this region. However, the Russian tank was destroyed already on the approach by getting hit by anti-tank missiles from two sides. The double explosion did not give a chance to the crew to survive. Judging by the trajectory, both missiles came somewhere from Nevelse. This small settlement and fortifications around it are located on a hill, allowing Ukrainian fighters to control the whole region, including the distant flanks. So, any armored vehicle that gets within the range of 5 km immediately becomes a possible target.

That is why recently, Russians decided to make a frontal tank assault precisely on the Ukrainian position on the hill. The biggest problem for Russians was that all Ukrainian units in this region had all sorts of anti-tank weaponry. It didn’t take long for the first tank to be taken out. Judging by the horizontal trajectory of the missile, it looks like Ukrainians destroyed this tank with ATGM Stuhna-P. Less than a minute later, the second tank was also destroyed, and this time clearly with Javelin that was launched from a very short distance.

After making sure that frontal attacks continued not to work, Russians decided to develop a new tactic. Two days ago, Russians started using the local geography to their advantage. This time, Russian forces sent their tanks through the gully, meaning that they were out of sight of most, if not all, Ukrainian ATMG crews. The attack aimed to clear the tree line south of Pervomaiske and set conditions for a much easier advancement through the settlement. However, other aspects of the plan were very strange.

Russians decided to send at least 20 troops to approach the first target by foot along the tree lines; 1 tank and 3 armored vehicles to simultaneously attack the second Ukrainian position from the gully; and at least 1 tank was left in the rear to provide cover. The attack went terribly wrong.

Ukrainian drone operators quickly passed the tank coordinates in the rear to the ATGM crews around Nevelske. The ATGM crews responded extremely timely and destroyed the Russian tank before the assault units even reached their targets. Without the cover from the tank, Ukrainian fighters on the first line of defense could easily target the assault units that consisted entirely of troops and very quickly killed everyone from machine guns and artillery.

By the time the Russian armor emerged from the gully and started approaching the second Ukrainian position, the fighters in the first position were fully available. As a result, the Russian armored assault unit got caught in the cross fire and destroyed before it even reached their target as well. Such an attack cost Russians at least 5 pieces of heavy equipment and up to 40 troops. It is unclear whether such a disastrous attack was a result of poor planning or misunderstanding of the plan.

The timing was extremely off, and the troops stuck in the middle of the field were doomed the moment they lost cover. The heavy losses of tanks and armored vehicles in this direction that continue to accumulate month after month are significantly degrading Russian forces. This is an extremely good sign for Ukrainians because, as the Ukrainian Eastern Grouping of Forces Spokesperson recently reiterated, the main objective of the Ukrainian defensive operation in the east is to exhaust Russian forces in the area, and, so far, Ukrainians are very successful in achieving this goal.

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

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