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Frontline report: Ukrainian defensive line breached by Russian flanking maneuver near Avdiivka

In a daring move, Russian forces have exploited a gap in Ukrainian defenses near Avdiivka, breaking through along the railway line to establish a foothold in the town of Ocheretyne
Screenshot from Reporting from Ukraine video
Frontline report: Ukrainian defensive line breached by Russian flanking maneuver near Avdiivka

Day 791: 23 April

On 23 April, there are a lot of updates from the Avdiivka direction. Here, Russians exploited a Ukrainian mistake and executed a daring and risky maneuver in an attempt to accomplish multiple strategic goals at once, endangering the entire Ukrainian defensive operation.

On the northern flank of Avdiivka, the primary objective of the Russians was advancing westward to take the Ukrainian city of Pokrovsk. This city is the main Ukrainian headquarters in the area, from which they coordinate, reinforce, and supply their forces on the frontline. Ukrainians have established multiple lines of defense to halt Russian attempts to take this city.

Screenshot from Reporting from Ukraine video

At first, the Russians focused their breakthrough attempts on the first Ukrainian defensive line behind the Durna River. After multiple successful Ukrainian defensive operations, Ukrainians became overly focused on this line, allocating a large amount of manpower and equipment from other directions to continue to hold it.

Screenshot from Reporting from Ukraine video

If we look at the topographic map, we can also see that Ukrainians have established their defenses on the high ground behind the river. Any Russian attempt to cross the river, therefore, comes under fire from the Ukrainians up the hill.

Russian commanders realized their chances of breaking through the Ukrainian defense in this direction were nearly zero. That is why Russians decided to conduct an opportunistic attack designed to outflank the Ukrainian defenses to the east along the railways. This way, Russians could attack the Ukrainian defense line from the flanks and the same elevation.

Screenshot from Reporting from Ukraine video

In preparation for this move, Russian aviation conducted air strikes with FAB glide bombs on Ukrainian positions along the planned Russian axis of advance and the Ukrainian-held town of Ocheretyne.

Ukrainian sources also report that Russians started intensely shelling Ukrainian positions in this direction with artillery, severely limiting Ukrainian military movement and rescue operations of civilians stuck under the rubble of targeted buildings. After the artillery preparations, Russians started conducting multiple probing attacks on the railway line and the surrounding tree lines.

Screenshot from Reporting from Ukraine video

The Ukrainian 45th mechanized brigade shared geolocated footage of the destruction of a Russian assault group consisting of one armored personnel carrier with infantry. However, as it turns out, Ukrainians had allocated too much force to the Durna defense line. This, combined with the intense aerial and artillery bombardment, had created a gap in the Ukrainian defenses.

Russians quickly realized this and intensified their attacks, pushing on to the Zarya settlement and establishing a small foothold in Ocheretyne in only three days. These Russian attacks consisted of pure infantry, forcing them to stick to the forest belt along the railway line.

Screenshot from Reporting from Ukraine video

The railway line itself is not yet suitable for Russians to move armored vehicles over, as it lacks cover and is under complete Ukrainian fire control from both sides. After the surprise, Ukrainians quickly relocated units from the 30th and 59th mechanized brigades to reinforce the town and conduct immediate counterattacks.

Geolocated footage confirms the presence of Russian forces on the southern outskirts of the Town as Ukrainians engage Russian forces in the exterior trenches with artillery and drones. During the attack, a Ukrainian observation drone spotted a massive concentration of approximately 50 Russian soldiers exiting the substation on the edge of the town. Russians were using this building as a staging ground, from where the infantry would be directed to further attack certain buildings.

After this observation, Ukrainians immediately conducted artillery and drone strikes on the building itself while Russians frantically attempted to flee the kill zone. Russian sources then claimed that these survivors were relocated to positions along the tree belt next to the railway to be more spread out against further Ukrainian attacks.

These Russian sources also stated that while the attacks on the town itself had halted, Russian forces were preparing and ready to launch another large attack on Ocheretyne.

Geolocated footage also confirms that Russians did not completely retreat from the settlement. Ukrainian geolocated footage shows Ukrainian drone operators engaging Russian infantry in the outskirts with drone-dropped grenades. Further released footage shows that Russians are using a Ukrainian trench as a path to move into the first streets of the settlement.

Ukrainian drone operations concentrated their efforts on this area and started to hunt down Russian soldiers who had made their way into the first two streets of the settlement.

However, Russians also realized the vulnerability of their situation, as a powerful Ukrainian counterattack from two sides could completely cut them off in a pincer maneuver.

Screenshot from Reporting from Ukraine video

Therefore, Russians began to increase control over their flanks by attacking the salient’s tree lines to the east and west. Geolocated footage confirms that Russians succeeded in their operations but could not expand their control more than a field length away from the railway.

In a recent development, Russian forces broke through the Ukrainian defenses in Ocheretyne, eventually taking the southern part of the settlement altogether. Ukrainian sources state that Russians took advantage of a rotation of troops, which was executed improperly.

Russian soldiers, still located in the substation and outer houses, took advantage of this temporary weakness and scattered throughout the southern part of the settlement. Ukrainians quickly executed counterattacks with Bradly infantry fighting vehicles, but they have been unsuccessful so far.

Screenshot from Reporting from Ukraine video

Other geolocated footage suggests that Russians have crossed the railway embankment and entered the town center. Russians took advantage of a misallocation of Ukrainian forces and found and exploited a weak spot in the Ukrainian defense.

Fighting over the Ukrainian settlement of Ocheretyne continues. While the town’s fate hangs in the balance, Russians have established control over the southern part of the town and have made their way into the town center.

Even though the situation seems dire for Ukrainians, Russians still suffer from two massive problems: a continued lack of armored support and their thin supply line into the town.

If Ukrainians manage to conduct a powerful pincer attack on the only Russian supply line, Russian forces in the town itself could be completely cut off and taken into a pocket.

Screenshot from Reporting from Ukraine video

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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