The attempted Russian offensive on the fortified eastern Ukrainian city of Avdiivka appears to have been a costly failure for Moscow, with the Ukrainian military claiming to have killed thousands of Moscow’s troops and destroyed hundreds of pieces of military equipment in several days of intense fighting.
The spokesperson for Ukraine’s eastern force grouping—known as the Tavriisk Group—said this weekend that Russian offensive activity around the strategic Donetsk city had eased after last week’s failed encirclement effort there.
“We’ve destroyed a lot of their equipment, so now the enemy continues to push forward with infantry,” Colonel Oleksandr Shtupun said. “These can also be termed ‘meat grinder assaults.'”
Shtupun said defending Ukrainian forces have destroyed more than 300 pieces of Russian military equipment and killed around 3,000 enemy soldiers in the Avdiivka area since Moscow’s forces began pushing a new assault effort there on October 9. Kyiv said its troops have repelled more than 15 Russian attacks in the area in the past week.
Newsweek has not been able to verify these figures.
Colonel Dmytro Lysyuk—the commander of Ukraine’s 128th Separate Mountain Assault Brigade—said he sees little hope for the Russian operation. “The Russians should have realized this a long time ago,” Lysyuk said, as quoted by The Guardian. “They have not managed to achieve even tactical success.”
Newsweek has contacted the Russian Defense Ministry by email to request comment.
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said on Sunday that Moscow’s troops are continuing operations “aimed at encircling Avdiivka,” but that the assault force has “yet to make further gains amid a likely decreasing tempo of Russian operations in the area.”
“Both Ukrainian military observers and Russian sources stated that Russian forces did not achieve their desired immediate breakthrough, and Russian forces faced initial high losses and a likely slower than anticipated rate of advance,” the ISW bulletin read.
The attack on Avdiivka came as a Russian effort to seize back battlefield momentum after four months of defense against Kyiv’s counteroffensive operation in the southeast of the country. Though the initial drive seems to have failed, the ISW suggested that Russian troops will look to exploit the relatively meager gains won around the flanks of the city.
“Russian forces will likely continue offensive operations at this decreased tempo in the near term, however, and will remain a threat to Ukrainian forces in the area, despite being unlikely to achieve a decisive breakthrough or encircle Avdiivka at this time,” it said.
“Any decrease in the tempo of Russian offensive operations may be the result of a temporary adjustment to the tactical situation, and Russian forces may intensify their attempts to encircle Avdiivka in the coming days.”
Still, the ISW suggested there is little hope of imminent Russian success. “Russian forces are unlikely to make significant breakthroughs or cut off Ukrainian forces in the settlement in the near term, and potential advances at scale would likely require a significant and protracted commitment of personnel and materiel,” the think tank said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, appears to be downplaying the significance of the operation. In a Sunday television interview, the president said his troops were engaged in an “active defense” in the Avdiivka area, as well as in the eastern Kupiansk region—where Russian forces have been on the offensive for months—and in Zaporizhzhia oblast where Ukraine’s counteroffensive is now focused.