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UK intel: Russia reframes Avdiivka offensive as “active-defense” due to heavy toll

As Russia targets Avdiivka in its latest offensive, entrenched Ukrainian forces have inflicted heavy casualties on the Russian side, leading to a change in Russian military rhetoric from an offensive to “active-defense.”
Destroyed Russian armor in the area of Nevelske-Pervomaiske in the Avdiivka direction, Donetsk Oblast. Photo: screenshot from a Reporting From Ukraine video
UK intel: Russia reframes Avdiivka offensive as “active-defense” due to heavy toll

Russia launched a coordinated offensive against the strategically crucial town of Avdiivka in Donetsk Oblast, but its heavy losses and slow progress “likely triggered a change in messaging from Russia, from an offensive to ‘active-defence’,” the UK Defense Ministry says in its 17 October intelligence update on Ukraine.

After an artillery and air bombardment campaign that started on 6 October, Russia launched a concentrated two-pronged attack on 10 October, aiming to envelop the city of Avdiivka while continuing the bombardment. Faced with staunch Ukrainian resistance Russia sustained heavy losses in personnel and equipment, the assault showed signs of exhaustion some five days later, according to Ukrainian officials.

The British Defense Ministry tweeted:

  • Russia has highly likely begun a coordinated offensive across multiple axes in the east of Ukraine. Russian forces in Donetsk are conducting a combined arms offensive on the heavily defended town of Avdiivka, which has been on the front line since 2014. The town is a major obstacle in preventing Russian forces from their wider objective of taking control of Donetsk Oblast.
  • Russia’s attack is likely being carried out with multiple armoured battalions, which are attempting to envelop the town. It is likely to be the most significant offensive operation undertaken by Russia since at least January 2023.
  • Entrenched Ukrainian forces have so far likely held back the Russian advance, with the latter sustaining heavy equipment and personnel losses. Slow progress and high casualties have likely triggered a change in messaging from Russia, from an offensive to ‘active-defence’, as successfully clearing Avdiivka looks increasingly unlikely in the short term.

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