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ISW: Russia likely preparing another infantry-led wave of assaults at Avdiivka

In the area of Donetsk Oblast’s Avdiivka, Russian forces are altering their tactics, decreasing ground attacks and emphasizing heavy artillery fire. This suggests preparations for upcoming infantry-led assaults, as per ISW.
Russian infantry during an assault on Avdiivka in mid-October 2023. Screenshot from a Reporting From Ukraine video.
ISW: Russia likely preparing another infantry-led wave of assaults at Avdiivka

Russian forces are likely preparing for another wave of highly attritional infantry-led ground assaults on Ukrainian positions in the Avdiivka area, according to the US-based think tank Institute for the Study of War (ISW). 

A Russian military blogger associated with the Kremlin has asserted that Russian forces in the vicinity of Avdiivka have notably reduced ground attacks both to the north and south of the town. Instead, they are emphasizing intense indirect fire directed at Ukrainian frontline positions and areas near the rear. This heightened firepower might be part of an interdiction effort against Ukrainian assets around Avdiivka, but it appears more probable that it serves as air and artillery preparation for the upcoming battlefield, potentially preceding another wave of Russian assaults.

Furthermore, additional military bloggers have described the ongoing Russian operations as “preparatory support,” likely in anticipation of future assaults.

Colonel Oleksandr Shtupun, spokesperson for the Ukrainian Tavria Group of Forces, notably stated on 30 October that Russian forces are gearing up for what he colloquially termed “meat assaults” (referring to infantry-led frontal assaults) near Avdiivka. Additionally, they are reportedly training “Storm-Z” assault units primarily composed of convict recruits, presumably for future assaults conducted without conventional equipment.

“Russian forces may be preparing to transition to such infantry-led frontal assaults following heavy artillery preparation to compensate for heavy materiel losses in Avdiivka over the course of October,” ISW wrote in its daily Rusisian Offensive campaign assessment.

The open-source geolocation project GeoConfirmed employed readily available satellite imagery to confirm that Russian forces have encountered a total of 197 damaged and destroyed vehicles since 9 October. Specifically, they lost 99 vehicles during the initial wave of assaults between 9 and 13 October, followed by 94 vehicles during the second wave between 14 and 23 October. Additionally, there were four confirmed losses and 18 potentially lost vehicles between 24 and 31 October. GeoConfirmed has characterized the Russian campaign near Avdiivka as the most costly Russian effort seen in the entire Ukraine war.

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