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ISW says waiting for US aid, Ukraine retreats from villages near Avdiivka to avoid being outflanked by Russia

ISW says Ukrainian forces are retreating from villages like Arkhanhelske northwest of Avdiivka, trading territory for time to avoid being outflanked by advancing Russian troops before Western military aid arrives.
Screenshot from a video by Ukraine’s 47th Brigade.
ISW says waiting for US aid, Ukraine retreats from villages near Avdiivka to avoid being outflanked by Russia

Overnight on 3 to 4 May, Russian forces achieved a significant tactical advance near Arkhanhelske Village, northwest of Avdiivka, likely following the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from the area earlier that day, the US-based think tank Institute for the Study of War says.

On 4 May, a Russian milblogger posted footage reportedly showing the “Lavina” Battalion of the 132nd Motorized Rifle Brigade (1st Donetsk People’s Republic [DNR] Army Corps) raising a flag in Arkhanhelske, which ISW geolocated to northern Arkhanhelske. Geolocated footage published on 4 May shows Russian forces advancing in the eastern outskirts of Arkhanhelske.

ISW assesses that “the Russian seizure of Arkhanhelske also indicates that Russian forces likely control Keramik and Novokalynove (both southeast of Arkhanhelske).”

Geolocated footage published on 3 May shows Ukrainian forces withdrawing from northern Arkhanhelske. Russian milbloggers stated that Russian troops advanced in the settlement overnight on 3 to 4 May following the Ukrainian withdrawal. Additionally, a prominent Russian milblogger reported that Russian forces conducted offensive operations in several stages to seize Arkhanhelske, with advances from Ocheretyne (northwest of Avdiivka and southwest of Arkhanhelske) a week prior, and forces from Keramik (east of Ocheretyne) capturing the settlement on 3 May.

Ukrainian forces may have decided to trade space for time as they wait for the arrival of US aid to the frontline at scale in the coming weeks – an appropriate decision for an under-resourced force at risk of being outflanked,” ISW says.

ISW assesses that Russian forces are likely intensifying offensive operations to capitalize on the limited time before Western military aid arrives, and may achieve further tactical advances in this area soon.

The think tank says Russian forces are strategically exploiting the tactical situation northwest of Avdiivka, aiming for likely gains, although their ultimate objective in this frontline sector, whether to advance north towards Toretsk or refocus on Pokrovsk to the northwest, remains unclear.

Russian forces have committed approximately a division’s worth of combat power, primarily from Russia’s four Central Military District (CMD) brigades, to the frontline northwest of Avdiivka and are reportedly reinforcing this area with additional troops.

Recent Ukrainian reports indicate that Russia has deployed elements of the 55th Motorized Rifle Brigade (41st Combined Arms Army, CMD) to the Novobakhmutivka area, south of Ocheretyne.

“Russian forces were likely to continue to push northwest of Avdiivka as long as there were opportunities to exploit the tactical situation in the area,” ISW says.

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