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Frontline report: Tanks and troops stymied as Russia loses planes striking westward

Russian tank and infantry attacks on Ukrainian lines at Orikhiv and Avdiivka are unsuccessful, while Russian air attacks west of Avdiivka lead Russia to lose multiple aircraft.
Screenshot from a Reporting From Ukraine video.
Frontline report: Tanks and troops stymied as Russia loses planes striking westward

Day 726: Feb 19

Today, there are a lot of different updates from the Orikhiv and Avdiivka directions.

Screenshot from a Reporting From Ukraine video.

First of all, when it comes to the Orikhiv direction in the south, here Russian forces conducted several sudden waves of attacks toward the only settlement inside the bridgehead. The Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces stated that Ukrainian forces repelled a Russian attack consisting of “a fairly large number of personnel” with about thirty tanks and armored fighting vehicles, which corresponds with numerous Russian claims that Russian forces renewed offensives in this region.

Screenshot from a Reporting From Ukraine video.

Based on the geolocated footage, Russian forces extensively used cluster munitions to prepare for storming and passing the tree lines and then sent one assault unit after another.

Screenshot from a Reporting From Ukraine video.

Ukrainians targeted the assault units with drones and anti-tank guided missiles, which made the Russian attacks extremely disorderly, with the units breaking down into multiple parts, where each part did whatever it wanted – some decided to run away, some immediately tried to seek shelter from the Ukrainian fire, others continued the suicidal assault alone. What made the situation for Russians even worse was that they got 80-year-old T-55 tanks with poor anti-drone protection and weak hull and turret armor.

Screenshot from a Reporting From Ukraine video.

Russian military analysts tried to reframe this embarrassing offensive as a reconnaissance-in-force operation, however, this is not true. Based on the number of forces engaged and the fact that these attacks were suddenly conducted once the front line in Avdiivka collapsed means that Russians tried to take advantage of the possible lack of readiness of Ukrainian soldiers.

Screenshot from a Reporting From Ukraine video.

Still, some Russian sources declared success too soon and claimed that Russian soldiers entered the village. Simultaneously, other Russian sources started urging to take that information because those Russians that entered the outskirts were there not because they breached the defense but because they were lucky enough to find shelter and survive after the disastrous attack, and such posts just encouraged Ukrainians to go and check the outskirts. And they were right because shortly after that, Ukrainians released multiple videos of surrendering Russian soldiers.

Screenshot from a Reporting From Ukraine video.

When it comes to the Avdiivka direction, the recent Ukrainian withdrawal gave Russian forces a huge boost in morale, and they started attacking the next Ukrainian defense line in the region. The main Ukrainian defense line is located on the other side of the river, and for now, Ukrainian forces are still uncertain whether there is any sense in holding defense in these four settlements. Russian forces are trying to take advantage of that and break through Ukrainian defenses using small infantry groups for assaults. The Ukrainian command previously committed fresh units to the Avdiivka front to counterattack advancing Russian forces and provide an evacuation corridor for Ukrainian units withdrawing from Avdiivka.

Screenshot from a Reporting From Ukraine video.

According to the Institute for the Study of War, these newly committed units can likely establish and hold defensive positions against Russian forces, degraded by their assaults on the town. They noted that it is normal practice to bring reinforcements to function as a receiving force that allows withdrawing units to reconstitute behind prepared defensive positions.

Screenshot from a Reporting From Ukraine video.

The Institute for the Study of War also noted that available imagery, which they refused to present or describe in greater detail at this time to preserve Ukrainian operational security, indicates that Ukrainian forces prepared good defensive positions west of Avdiivka.

In an attempt to maintain the momentum, Russian forces started using air-dropped bombs in the same way they used them inside the town. During the Battle for Avdiivka, Russian forces appear to have temporarily established limited and localized air superiority and were able to provide ground troops with close air support during the final days of their offensive operation, likely the first time that Russian forces have done so in Ukraine.

Screenshot from a Reporting From Ukraine video.

However, as the front line shifted westward, the Russian fighter-bombers necessarily needed to get up to ten kilometers closer to the contact line to reach the next defense line. Unfortunately for the Russians, this was a fatal mistake, as Russians suddenly started losing their aviation in large numbers.

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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