October 22, 2023

Institute for the Study of War:  Russia sends more forces to the Avdiivka front after heavy losses

Institute for the Study of War

Russian forces are funneling additional forces to the Avdiivka front despite ongoing challenges with frontal mechanized assaults and the failure of a renewed push on October 19-20. Several Russian milbloggers claimed that there were no significant changes along the front in the Avdiivka direction on October 22. Russian forces are likely once again pausing following a failed major push which suffered heavy losses. A prominent Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces “unexpectedly” counterattacked in the direction of Pisky (8km southwest of Donetsk City) and pushed Russian forces from positions in the area. Another milblogger stated that claims of Ukrainian advances near Pisky and Opytne (4km south of Avdiivka) are false. Another Russian source allegedly serving in the Avdiivka direction claimed that Ukrainian forces did not conduct counterattacks in his unspecified sector of the front. Geolocated footage published on October 21 indicates that Russian forces recently made marginal advances southeast of Pervomaiske (11km southwest of Avdiivka). A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces have not completely cleared the Avdiivka waste heap area and that the area is currently a contested “gray zone.”

Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations near Bakhmut and in western Zaporizhia Oblast on October 22. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian troops continued offensive actions south of Bakhmut and in the Melitopol (western Zaporizhia Oblast) directions. Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Oleksandr Shtupun noted that Ukrainian forces maintained offensive pressure in western Zaporizhia Oblast despite active Russian hostilities in the Avdiivka direction.

Russian forces conducted a series of missile and drone strikes against Ukraine on October 22. Ukrainian military officials reported that Russian forces launched eight S-300 missiles, a Kh-59 missile, three Shahed-131/136 drones, and two drones of an unspecified type at targets in Ukraine and that Ukrainian air defenses destroyed the three Shahed drones and the Kh-59 missile. Ukrainian officials reported that Russian forces struck the “Nova Poshta” terminal near Kharkiv City as well as Kostyantynivka, Donetsk Oblast with S-300 missiles. Ukrainian Air Force Spokesperson Colonel Yuriy Ihnat specified that reports about drones of an unspecified type refer to makeshift Russian drones constructed from simple materials, which include engines acquired from AliExpress.

Key Takeaways:

  • Russian forces are funneling additional forces to the Avdiivka front despite ongoing challenges with frontal mechanized assaults and the failure of a renewed push on October 19-20.
  • Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations near Bakhmut and in western Zaporizhia Oblast on October 22.
  • Russian forces conducted a series of missile and drone strikes against Ukraine on October 22.
  • The nationalist pro-war Russian information space is reckoning with the possibility of a major demographic decline by weaponizing anti-migrant rhetoric.
  • A prominent Russian milblogger and frontline commander criticized Russian top-down censorship campaigns.
  • Deceased Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin’s ideological and rhetorical campaign against the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) has largely become decoupled from the issue of the Wagner Group and appears to have outlived Prigozhin himself.
  • Russian forces conducted offensive operations along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line, near Bakhmut, along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line, in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area, and in western Zaporizhia Oblast and advanced in some areas on October 22.
  • Russian authorities are intensifying mobilization efforts targeting Central Asian migrant communities.
  • Russian occupation authorities continue to use cultural and education programs to forcibly Russify Ukrainian children.
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