Russia reportedly suffered major equipment losses in a battle for the Ukrainian-held eastern Donbas town of Avdiivka on Wednesday, and lost 990 soldiers, 42 tanks, and 32 artillery systems overall in one day, according to Kyiv’s military.
Videos circulating on social media showed what one online commenter described as a “Russian kamikaze attempt” to take the largely destroyed town which resulted in a large number of Russian tanks and equipment being destroyed by Ukrainian artillery. Newsweek couldn’t immediately verify the authenticity of the videos.
Russian forces “launched localized offensive operations in the Avdiivka area of Donetsk Oblast” on Tuesday, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) think tank said.
Avdiivka, which had a pre-war population of at least 30,000, is located about 90 kilometers (56 miles) south of Bakhmut and just north of Russian-occupied Donetsk. Some 2,000 civilians remain in the city that has been on the frontline of the Donbas conflict since 2014, when President Vladimir Putin illegally annexed the southern Crimean peninsula from Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk started combating Kyiv’s forces.
The area has been the scene of intense fighting since Kyiv launched its counteroffensive in early June.
A video of the destruction was posted by the “Jay in Kyiv” X (formerly Twitter) account, linked to the Serhiy Prytula Charity Foundation, which raises money to buy equipment for the Ukrainian army.
“One from many videos coming out of what’s amounting to a Russian kamikaze attempt to take the largely destroyed town of Avdiivka,” the X user wrote. “Russians just gunning it through minefields, costing the 35 tanks and 91 APC’s just yesterday.”
“For over a year, there has been the danger that [Avdiivka] can be occupied, but now the situation has worsened rapidly,” Vitaliy Barabash, head Avdiivka’s administration, told the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency earlier this week.
Newsweek has contacted Russia’s Defense Ministry for comment via email.
Geolocated footage from October 10 and 11 confirms that Russian troops advanced southwest of Avdiivka near Sieverne and northwest of Avdiivka near Stepove and Krasnohorivka, the ISW said.
The Ukrainian General Staff also reported that a grouping of up to three Russian battalions with tank and armored vehicle support intensified offensive operations near Avdiivka.
According to figures published by Ukraine’s General Staff on Facebook on Thursday, 42 Russian tanks were destroyed in the past 24 hours, bringing the total Russian tank losses since the war began last year to 4,905. Independent sources give numbers that are more conservative than Kyiv’s, and Russia doesn’t publish figures on its military losses.
It’s not clear how many of the tanks were destroyed in clashes in Avdiivka.
“Geolocated footage shows that Russian gains around Avdiivka are concentrated to the southwest of Avdiivka, and Russian forces have not completed an operational encirclement of the settlement and will likely struggle to do so if that is their intent,” the think tank said.
It added that Avdiivka is also a notoriously well-fortified and defended Ukrainian stronghold, which will likely complicate Russian forces’ ability to closely approach or fully capture the settlement.
“As ISW previously assessed, Russian forces likely intend attacks in the Avdiivka area to fix Ukrainian forces and prevent them from redeploying to other areas of the front. However, Ukrainian officials have already identified the Avdiivka push as a Russian fixing operation, and they are unlikely to unduly commit Ukrainian manpower to this axis.”
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