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Another day, another big Russian defeat at Avdiivka. It’s getting hard to even show pictures of the battlefield because those sections that don’t look like a parking lot for the smoking heaps of smashed Russian equipment look like an open-air morgue for the sad remains of complete Russian brigades. Which is exactly what they are.
Meanwhile, Ukraine picked up more territory near Robotyne in the south while solidifying its area of control near Verbove. Russia made multiple attempts to regain ground in this area, but those attempts seemed to include a lot of small, disorganized attacks that differed from those around Avdiivka mostly in getting fewer Russian forces obliterated.
Russia also stepped up attacks in the north, near Bakhmut, and in the pocket between Bakhmut and Avdiivka, which hasn’t seen a lot of action in recent weeks. Top that off with reports that Ukraine is taking advantage of Russia overextending itself in the effort to surround Avdiivka to make a counterstrike.
All of this makes for a good day to go around the front lines and see what’s happening.
Kupyansk is one of the locations where the Russian military announced a big push in August, with claims that they would force Ukraine back across the Oskil and take the portion of Kupyansk east of the river. Russia did make gains northeast of the city, but those gains appear to have been limited to recapturing a few villages that had few (or no) garrisoned forces.
On Wednesday, Russia stepped up attacks in the area, making a total of eight runs at Synivka and along the road south of Lyman Pershyi. More attacks reportedly came to the east, near the town of Ivanivka where Russia attempted to reach the P07 highway. All these assaults were repelled. However, Russia gained a few hundred meters south and west of Lyman Pershyi.
It remains unclear just how large any of the actions going on in this area really are. Back in August, Ukraine evacuated some civilians away from the front lines in anticipation of a major Russian offensive. But any major action seems to have fizzled, with Russia back to small, squad-level movements. That doesn’t mean Russia isn’t losing significant numbers of men and machines. They’re just doing it in smaller bites.
South of Kupyansk, Russian activity in the Svatove and Kreminna area seems to be limited to lobbing artillery toward area villages. Russia continues to hold a small salient that extends west from Kreminna about 14 kilometers. Otherwise, the lines are remarkably close to where they were a year ago before Russia began its winter offensive in this area.
While there has been some movement over the past few weeks to the north of Bakhmut, including Russia reportedly retaking a small area to the northwest, most of the action has continued south of the city.
In continuing action that mimics what’s been seen at both Avdiivka and in the south, Russia continues trying to retake lost ground in the Klishchiivka and Andrivka areas. However, Ukraine holds well-defended high-ground positions west of Klishchiivka that give its artillery command over the region. There are also reports that Ukraine has moved north from Klishchiivka and crossed the rail lines north of town toward Bakhmut. No details on this advance.
However, if you’ve been missing videos of upbeat Ukrainian soldiers, check out this clip from Klishchiivka. Nothing makes for happy troops like fighting against guys who keep trying to advance over the same stretch of open ground.
Well south of Klishchiivka, Russia reportedly mounted an attack along the highway east of Pivnichne. So far, this assault doesn’t seem to have moved the lines and Russia appears to have very few troops in this area.
As it was through most of October, Avdiivka remains the center of action on Wednesday. And, as it did through most days of October, it remains the scene of incredible losses by Russia.
Before getting onto the new action, here are some images representing an incredible amount of work by the folks behind the @GeoConfirmed on X, the social network formerly known as Twitter. Elon or no Elon, you need to click through on this one to see the whole thing, because these guys have carefully laid out the location of 197 destroyed Russian vehicles, breaking them down into the different phases of this attack.
But for anyone hoping to sort out this battlefield, a lot of work remains. Here’s another post reporting 32 previously undocumented Russian losses at Avdiivka not included in that epic thread above. Here are five more. And here’s some recent action in the area, adding to the incredible scrapyard of former Russian gear.
Fighting in the area remains intense, and Ukrainian forces near Avdiivka are by no means safe. But Russia needs to drive several kilometers across open fields under Ukrainian artillery control to achieve its goal of encircling the city. Just because it hasn’t worked for a month, doesn’t mean Russia is going to either slow down or change its tactics.
In the last day, Russia has reportedly expanded its control in the area around the Terrikon spoil pile and advanced its area of control north of Vodyane on the south. These are both small gains of a few hundred square meters. However, those small movements do bring Russia closer to a pair of critical crossroads that could affect Ukraine’s ability to supply troops in Avdiivka. These advances may be enough to encourage Russia that if they just keep trying, they’ll eventually wear Ukraine down.
The best news of the day may also be the most tentative. Ukrainian forces have reportedly moved down the highway north of Kranohorivka, moving about a kilometer through light resistance with Russian forces looking to the south. While this is reported by multiple sources, it is unconfirmed by the Ukrainian military or more cautious (thus credible) open source intelligence sites like Deep State. So take it with a grain of hopium.
One big note: In the last two days, there have been multiple videos of Russian soldiers caught out in the open approaches around Avdiivka and subsequently mauled by artillery and drones. If you see something with a warning from this area, take it seriously and think twice about watching.
Nothing says “this is not a stalemate” like seeing Ukraine liberate more territory. That little area of blue on the west side of Robotyne first appeared with a new push two days ago. It doubled in size over the past day.
There’s some low ground in this area, as well as a steep ditch leading down to a small reservoir. But so far Ukraine seems to be moving effectively to drive Russian forces that were based in a series of tree lines. Maybe the coming of fall is helping to remove some of the cover that those trees have provided. Or maybe Russian reserves in the area have been drawn down to feed the hunger at Avdiivka.
Whatever the reason, it’s good to see more area being liberated, even if it’s just 2 square kilometers so far.
This next video is so far behind the lines, I had to Google the location. It turns out to be a village about 30 kilometers south of Robotyne, one that’s actually further away from the front than the strategic target of Tokmak. Surveillance drones pinpoint the location of an electronic warfare system, but what strikes it is anyone’s guess.
We haven’t quite covered the field, because there is more to cover about Ukraine’s actions on the east (left) bank of the Dnipro River. That includes the Ukrainian bridgehead driving a reported 2 km toward the town of Pishchanivka. But it will have to wait for now.
If Ukraine breaks through at any point or liberates a town in this area, I promise we will be on it.
The Economist has an interview with Ukraine’s top general, Valery Zaluzhny, that includes some tough questions and hard answers. Here’s Zaluzhny talking about Ukraine’s inability to move forward at the expected pace during the counteroffensive.
“First I thought there was something wrong with our commanders, so I changed some of them. Then I thought maybe our soldiers are not fit for purpose, so I moved soldiers in some brigades,” says General Zaluzhny. When those changes failed to make a difference, the commander told his staff to dig out a book he once saw as a student in a military academy in Ukraine. Its title was “Breaching Fortified Defence Lines”. It was published in 1941 by a Soviet major-general, P. S. Smirnov, who analyzed the battles of the First World War. “And before I got even halfway through it, I realized that is exactly where we are because just like then, the level of our technological development today has put both us and our enemies in a stupor.”
A Lancet goes for about $35,000. A HIMARS/M270-fired M31 rocket costs over $100,000 more. But the chance to take out the operator and ground equipment makes this shot priceless, not to mention the value of whatever it might have targeted.
According to The Hill, one well-known Russian military analyst is reporting that Vladimir Putin is dead. In fact, according to the source, Putin has been dead for days and since then, everyone has been watching a double.
But if everyone treats Putin’s double like Putin … does it matter?