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UK Intelligence: Russia switched to meat grinder assaults at Avdiivka after losing 200 armored vehicles

Russia’s switch to its trusted tactic of expending lives for meters was likely prompted by Ukraine’s effective use of anti-armor weapons, mines, drones, and artillery
UK Intelligence: Russia switched to meat grinder assaults at Avdiivka after losing 200 armored vehicles

Russia has faced heavy losses in its ongoing offensive on Avdiivka, a report by the UK intelligence states.

According to the report, Russia has “likely lost around 200 armored vehicles” over the past three weeks while assaulting the Donbas town of Avdiivka. The high losses rate is “likely due to a relative effectiveness of Ukraine’s modern hand-held anti-armor weapons, mines, uncrewed aerial vehicle-dropped munitions, and precision artillery systems.”

Avdiivka on a map. Map by ISW

Given these equipment losses, the report says “Russian forces have highly likely switched to conducting dismounted infantry-based assaults in this sector.” Just as Ukraine faced “similar tactical challenges” on the offensive this summer, Russia’s armored attacks on Avdiivka across open ground have resulted in major casualties.

The report estimates “Russia has suffered several thousand personnel casualties around the town since the start of October 2023.” Despite the losses, it concludes “Russia’s leadership continues to demonstrate a willingness to accept heavy personnel losses for marginal territorial gains.”

The “similar tactical challenges” that the UK Intelligence refers to are the infamous “meat grinder” assaults which have become a staple of Russian operations in Ukraine. It is thanks to expending the lives of thousands of convicts that the Wagner group was after eight months of fighting finally able to seize east Ukraine’s Bakhmut.

Ukrainian commander Serhii Filimonov told in September that the Russians are unchanged in their tactics of attacking head-on without consideration for casualties, employing toxic gases disseminated from drones, improving their reconnaissance abilities, and acquiring many kamikaze drones.  As well, Russia continues to send poorly trained prisoners for the assaults near Kupiansk in Ukraine’s Kharkiv Oblast, just as it did in the battle for Bakhmut during August 2022-May 2023.

Russians improve their tactics, utilize chemical weapons from WWI and drones, says Ukrainian field commander

Russia’s assault on Avdiivka

  • On 4 November, ISW reported that Russian forces are reportedly building up for a “third massive assault” on Avdiivka, eastern Ukraine. There have been confirmed gains north of the city, with ongoing intensive assaults,
  • Previously, ISW said that Russian forces in the Avdiivka area are altering their tactics, decreasing ground attacks, and emphasizing heavy artillery, possibly preparing for another infantry-led wave of assault.
  • The UK intel report confirms earlier OSINT data, which reveals that Russia’s assault on Avdiivka has been costly, with 197-215 combat vehicles damaged or destroyed in the offensive.
  • As well, the Ukrainian military claimed on 29 October that Russia lost 6,500 soldiers near Avdiivka in October 2023.
  • On 22 October, Russian troops were reported to be using new tactics near Avdiivka, including digging tunnels and using robots in assaults.
  • Russia launched a massive offensive on Avdiivka on 18 October,  described as one of Russia’s biggest assaults on the city since 2014.
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