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Frontline report: Ukrainian defenses hold as Avdiivka faces up to 60 Russian airstrikes in one day

Ukrainian soldiers noted that due to the dynamic nature of the fighting, some glide bombs fell on Russian soldiers, but the Russian commanders did not care.
Screenshot from video by Reporting from Ukraine
Frontline report: Ukrainian defenses hold as Avdiivka faces up to 60 Russian airstrikes in one day

Today, there is a lot of news.

First of all, the Ukrainian Special Forces conducted a successful operation where they engaged and neutralized the large Russian landing ship Caesar Kunikov south of Crimea. This vessel, part of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, represented one of the newest and best additions to the Russian naval capabilities. Russian sources reported that Ukrainians utilized seven unmanned surface vessels to target the ship at night, more precisely, the fifth generation of Magura drones.

Russian analysts note adaptations of the Ukrainian so-called “Wolfpack” tactics, which are especially successful against stationary targets at sea. This tactic implies a coordinated attack where each drone plays a crucial role in the success of the operation, be that a role of reconnaissance, decoy, or striker. Based on the combat footage released by the Ukrainian Main Intelligence Directorate, four drones inflicted critical damage to the port side of Caesar Kunikov, leading to its sinking.

Screenshot from video by Reporting from Ukraine

Preliminary reports indicate a significant loss of life among the Russian vessel’s crew. Search and rescue operations conducted by Russian forces were reportedly too late and unsuccessful. The analysts noted that Russian commanders made a fatal mistake by stopping in the middle of the sea. Based on the footage, the drones were approaching the ship relatively slowly, which means that they were much quieter and harder to detect. Getting so close while being undetected would be impossible if the ship was moving because the drones would have needed to move faster to catch up.

However, the marine drone strike actually happened only after the aerial drone strike. Russian sources reported that before sinking the ship, Ukrainians launched several waves of aerial drones. Russian analysts note that the area of operation of Ukrainian aerial drones increased significantly because now Ukrainians are attacking Crimea not only from the west but also from the north and east. This implies that the January strike campaign considerably degraded Russian air defense capabilities.

Screenshot from video by Reporting from Ukraine

Russian sources even reported that Russians had to engage their fighter jets to intercept two out of three waves of drone attacks. The fact that Russians were engaging additional resources for aerial drone interception indicates that they were once again overly focused on the problems in the sky, failing to prepare for the main attack on their ship from the sea.

At the same time, Russian sources confirmed the death of the commander of the Russian 77th Marine Brigade, who died in a hospital in Crimea. Some sources indicate that he was wounded during the previous strike on the Russian headquarters in Crimea, while others say that he was wounded in the Kherson region.

Screenshot from video by Reporting from Ukraine

Recently, Russian forces also conducted a series of strikes. Their first target became a thermal power station in Dnipro, resulting in the suspension of electricity production. The attack, executed under the cover of night, inflicted substantial damage on critical and large-scale equipment without causing injuries.

Screenshot from video by Reporting from Ukraine

The second target became Selydove, which is located around forty kilometers away from Avdiivka.

Screenshot from video by Reporting from Ukraine

Russian sources reported that Russian forces hit a large deployment point using Iskander missiles with cluster munitions and killed up to six hundred troops. Some sources claimed that Russians hit newly arrived detachments from the third assault brigade that were supposed to reinforce Avdiivka. Shortly after that, Ukrainian fighters from the third assault brigade released combat footage confirming that they were already in Avdiivka, not Selydove.

The Russian sources started claiming that they destroyed wounded troops that withdrew from Avdiivka. Later, local residents published photos of their destroyed houses, indicating that Russians did not hit the shooting range with Ukrainian soldiers.

The third target became a temporary Ukrainian equipment park in Tsukurino.

Screenshot from video by Reporting from Ukraine

The footage confirms that Russians managed to damage and destroy multiple vehicles with cluster munitions. By the way, this settlement is located just two kilometers away from Selydove, and both strikes happened simultaneously. Judging by the fact that the footage from this strike was promptly released, while the footage from Selydove was withheld again, it indicates that Russians did not hit a huge base with Ukrainians.

Screenshot from video by Reporting from Ukraine

Most prominent Russian sources admitted that due to the absence of any evidence, the location or information about killed reinforcements to Avdiivka cannot be confirmed. Ukrainian commander of forces in Avdiivka stated that Russians launched an information operation as a distraction from the heavy losses that Russians are incurring in Avdiivka, which recently reached approximately six hundred forty-five Russian soldiers per day.

When it comes to Avdiivka itself, the situation is extremely difficult. Ukrainian fighters reported that Russian forces conducted up to sixty glide bomb strikes on Ukrainian positions just over the past day, just inside the town. Ukrainian soldiers noted that due to the dynamic nature of fighting, some of these bombs fell on Russian soldiers, but the Russian commanders did not care.

Screenshot from video by Reporting from Ukraine

In combination with airstrikes, Russian forces are actively pouring in their reserves to overwhelm Ukrainian forces and maintain the momentum. This has allowed Russians to cross the rails and establish physical control over the main supply road. However, this morning, a portion of Ukrainian reserves was deployed to this region and started conducting counterattacks.

Screenshot from video by Reporting from Ukraine

According to the latest available combat footage, Ukrainian fighters from the third assault brigade used Bradleys to attack Russian forces and pushed them away from the road by more than one hundred fifty meters.

Screenshot from video by Reporting from Ukraine

The Ukrainian commander of the famous 110th brigade that has been fighting in Avdiivka non-stop for two years stated that they felt a tangible relief once the help from the third brigade arrived. Even though Russian sources are already celebrating the encirclement of the town, a Ukrainian fighter from the 24th battalion said not to take everything at face value, as the situation is very dynamic with a lot of back-and-forth. He also added that Ukrainian low-level commanders are “neither stupid nor spineless” and would not allow the high command to just leave them to be encircled.

Screenshot from video by Reporting from Ukraine

The fact that Ukrainian soldiers actively defend the decision of Higher Command, even more than during the Battle for Bakhmut, indicates that there is a plan that they do not hurry to reveal. It seems like Ukrainians are waiting until Russians exhaust their reserves to make a move, and with an average of six hundred forty-five killed Russian troops per day just in Avdiivka, they may not need to wait for long.

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.

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