Day 639: Nov 24
Today, there are a lot of updates from the Avdiivka direction.
Here, earlier this week, Ukrainians conducted an important operation to undermine the whole Russian offensive operation. And this counterattack took place in a somewhat unexpected region because it was conducted around 20 kilometers north of Avdiivka.
At first glance, these two sections of the front line seem unrelated; however, the stability of the front line around Horlivka is far more important for the Russian offensive than anything else.
The reason why Horlivka plays such a crucial role in the Russian offensive operation is simple – Horlivka is the main logistical center in the region. It is true that there is also Donetsk; however, Russians use Donetsk to supply the southern flank of Avdiivka, while the northern flank of Avdiivka almost solely relies on Horlivka.
Given that the most intense clashes have been taking place on the northern flank, the importance of Horlivka is hard to overestimate. That is why when Russians were conducting large-scale suicidal assaults in an attempt to breach the northern flank at the beginning of the offensive, local residents of Horlivka reported that there was a crisis in the city, as hundreds of vehicles were delivering wounded Russian soldiers, the hospitals were full, and Russians had to launch advertisements to urgently attract surgeons to Horlivka.
Moreover, as reported by Ukrainian Intelligence, Russian forces allocated forty thousand troops as reserves for the offensive operation, and it is obvious that it is impossible to have them in the small villages close to the front, so a huge part of Russian reserves is stationed in Horlivka. And this is extremely important because Ukrainians decided to use this against Russians.
Ukrainians developed a two-step plan. First of all, Ukrainians needed to cut off the connection between Horlivka and the front.
And secondly, Ukrainians needed to force Russians to urgently deploy these reserves to fight in the other section of the front line.
The first part of the plan was implemented rather quickly because a Ukrainian sabotage group managed to get behind the enemy lines and blow up the most important bridge in the area.
Without this bridge, Russians had only two options: they could take much riskier roads that are close to the contact line, or they could make a huge detour and enter the region from the side of Donetsk. Using the roads to Donetsk didn’t make much sense because the whole purpose of using Horlivka as a logistics center is its proximity to the northern flank, so Russians took short but risky roads.
Unfortunately for Russians, even the Horlivka-Donetsk highway was under fire control of Ukrainian drones, as can be seen from many videos, so when the logistical routes moved closer, the Russian losses of equipment skyrocketed.
As you remember, Ukrainian fighters from Avdiivka said that thanks to the high-level coordination between drone and artillery teams, more than 60% of Russian vehicles were destroyed before they even got close to the front, which later forced Russians to reduce their use of heavy equipment.
This was when Ukrainians understood that the supplies from Horlivka were undermined, and it was time to cut off Russian reserves by forcing them to engage near Horlivka. In preparation for the attack, Ukrainian forces started destroying Russian observation posts. Soon, Russian sources started posting combat footage with the unusual activity of Ukrainian forces right in front of Horlivka.
As it turned out, it was just a reconnaissance-in-force operation. After two days of such attacks, the grey zone was reduced, and Ukrainians understood that the Russian defense here was weak. That is when, earlier this week, Ukrainians made a powerful push, breached the Russian defense in front of the entrance to the mounts, and assumed total control over them.
Geolocated footage shows how Russian forces were trying to rebuff the Ukrainian attack with drone strikes, but it was unsuccessful.
Moreover, footage showed that Ukrainians got at least one armored fighting vehicle on top of the heap and opened fire from machine guns on the Russian forces below.
Russian forces spent the whole week stabilizing the situation, and even though they still have not managed to regain control over the tactical heights in the region, they did deploy a lot of troops to fight here, which is exactly what Ukrainians wanted.
Overall, by identifying key chains in Russian logistics and exploiting their weaknesses, Ukrainians managed to undermine the Russian offensive operation on the northern flank of Avdiivka. The Ukrainian operation was successful, as Ukrainians not only diminished the physical connection of Horlivka to the front but also forced Russians to use their reserves to stabilize this region instead of launching another wave of attacks in Avdiivka.
In our daily frontline report, we pair up with the military blogger Reporting from Ukraine to keep you informed about what is happening on the battlefield in the Russo-Ukrainian war.