Day 664: Dec 19
Today, there is a lot of news from Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk Oblast.
So far, Avdiivka remains the main Russian direction and the place with the highest number of engagements per day. Despite the stalled progress, in the eyes of the Russian commanders, the northern flank remains the most prospective one, even though the notorious chemical plant area has truly become the worst nightmare of the Russian soldiers.
Over the last several days, the Russian attacks in this region became disjointed. Ukrainian fighters from the 47th Mechanized Brigade reported that the attacks are conducted without the help of tanks or armored vehicles, that the assault units became smaller, and the attacks themselves are less coordinated – it seems like each unit is trying to achieve a different goal.
Recently released combat footage shows one of such opportunistic attacks. Russians are sending small groups of infantry to sneak into empty ditches, trenches, or houses to get a foothold in Stepove. Ukrainian fighters from the Khorne Group discovered that it was actually a reinforcement for the two soldiers who had already sneaked into the trench. Unfortunately for Russians, the Khorne Group deployed the so-called Baba Yaga octocopters and blew up the shelter with a heavy mine, killing 6 troops.
Getting closer to the Russian-controlled tree line in front of Stepove, thermal cameras detected two more trenches with Russian soldiers. The first one had 5 soldiers, all of whom we killed, while the second one had 6 soldiers, 3 of whom were killed and 3 were wounded.
Fighters from the 47th Mechanized Brigade continued the hunt during the day with regular kamikaze drones and found two Russians smoking in a ditch. Russians tried to shoot it down, but the drone hit the target.
Many other videos are too graphic for this platform.
In general, the Stepove area has become more stable. Some analysts attribute this reduction in intensity to the temporary shortages of forces, while others attribute it to the recent series of strikes on Donetsk and logistical centers in this region.
Given that we saw 2 days ago how Russians delivered between 150 and 300 soldiers to Krasnohorivka, the shortages of troops are likely not the main reason, and the HIMARS and Storm Shadow strikes successfully undermined the Russian offensive capabilities, at least in the short term.
The second most deadly direction of attack in this region became the strong point between Stepove and the chemical plant. This is the area surrounded by concrete walls that we talked about previously. Just like in Stepove, Russian forces are constantly sending new assault units to take control of this grey zone. It seems like Ukrainian fighters from the 110th Brigade, who are responsible for this region, are keeping it in the grey zone on purpose to bait Russians into sending in more troops. Combat footage shows that every other day, Russians send a new group to establish control over the positions between the walls. Some Russians are destroyed with mortar fire en route, and those that survive are hunted down with drones within 2 days. When the assault unit is bigger than usual, Ukrainians sometimes send a Bradley to reduce it from a machine gun.
Ukrainian fighters from the 110th Mechanized Brigade recently flew the drone above this 100-meter-long position to showcase the Russian losses. The footage shows an enormous number of Russian troops who were killed, trying to maintain a foothold in hopes that the reinforcements come to help expand it. In total, the footage shows 33 troops, and it is unknown how many had been collected when Russians temporarily advanced along the tree line and could clean their positions.
Overall, Ukrainian fighters managed to stabilize the front line, and each unit has developed its own effective tactic for holding defense in a sustainable way. For example, the fighters from the 110th Mechanized Brigade identified a bottleneck that Russians need to pass to develop their offensive and turned it into a kill zone.
The fighters from the 47th Mechanized Brigade are leveraging the area richer in defensive positions to exhaust Russian forces, and then conduct counterattacks.
And the fighters that are defending the chemical plant set up multiple machine gun positions in the huge buildings and control every inch of the Russian positions in the tree lines in front of the plant.
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.