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ISW: Russia makes marginal gains near Avdiivka

Over the past several days, Ukrainian defenders repelled over 70 Russian attacks near Avdiivka, where fighting has emerged as some of the most intense since Russia launched its full-scale invasion.
Assessed control of terrain around Avdiivka as of 13 December 2023. Credit: ISW

Russian forces continued offensive operations near Avdiivka on 13 December and made a confirmed advance, ISW said in its daily report.

After Russia its renewed assault on Avdiivka in October 2023, the Donetsk Oblast town of Avdiivka has seen the most intense fighting. According to the British Defense Ministry intel, Russian military casualties over the last six weeks “have likely seen some of the highest Russian casualty rates of the war so far.”

According to the ISW, Russian forces marginally advanced southeast of Stepove, 3km northwest of Avdiivka. On 13 December, the Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian defenders repelled 25 attacks in the area east of Novobakhmutivka, Stepove. A day before, General Staff said that Ukraine’s forces repelled 51 Russian attacks in the Avdiivka areas.

Several Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces advanced in the industrial zone (southwest of Avdiivka) and east of the Avdiivka Coke Plant (northwest of Avdiivka). However, ISW has not observed visual evidence of this claim.

On 14 December, Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukraine’s forces repelled 29 Russian attacks east of Novobakhmutivka, Stepove and Avdiivka.

Institute for the Study of War also said in its daily report, citing Russian milbloggers that winter conditions negatively impacted Russian drones doing aerial reconnaissance near Bakhmut and Avdiivka, but “a recent snowstorm may have helped make the ground more solid for maneuvers in Luhansk.”

“Poor winter weather conditions including fog, rain, snow and ice are making military operations more difficult for both Russian occupation forces and Ukrainian defending forces along parts of the eastern front,” ISW reported.

Other takeaways from the ISW report:

  • The return of the Kremlin’s notion of a “partitioned Ukraine” is likely an organized effort to mislead the international community into rejecting key components of Ukraine’s sovereignty: its territorial integrity as defined in 1991 and its right to self-determination.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated on December 13 that Ukraine’s decision to transition to defensive operations is motivated by winter weather conditions and not a “crisis,” in response to a recent New York Times (NYT) article.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attended the second Ukraine-Northern Europe Summit in Oslo, Norway on 13 December.
  • Russian forces continued offensive operations along the Kupiansk-Svatove-Kreminna line, north of and near Bakhmut, near Avdiivka, west of Donetsk City, along the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area, and in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast and advanced in various sectors.
  • Occupation authorities continue efforts to destroy Ukrainian national and historical identity.
  • The Russian MoD is likely using formalized irregular unit commanders as a conduit to spread incorrect information about Russian battlefield successes within the Russian information space to circumvent the MoD’s responsibility.

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