October 10, 2023

Institute for the Study of War: Russian forces attempt to encircle Ukrainians in Avdiika in Donetsk, but are slowed by low readiness

Institute for the Study of War

Russian forces launched localized offensive operations in the Avdiivka area of Donetsk Oblast and southwest of Orikhiv in western Zaporizhia Oblast on October 9, which are likely intended to fix Ukrainian forces away from the Robotyne area. Russian forces intensified offensive operations northwest of Avdiivka near Ocheretyne, Tonenke, and Berdychi and southwest of Avdiivka on the Vodyane-Opytne line. Russian forces also attacked southwest of Orikhiv on the Pyatykhatky-Zherebyanky line, and Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces advanced up two kilometers in the area. The Ukrainian General Staff confirmed up to three Russian battalions conducted an attack and ISW has observed footage of fighting in the area, but ISW has not observed any confirmation of these claimed Russian advances as of this writing. Russian milbloggers are largely portraying the Avdiivka-area operations as a significant offensive effort aimed at encircling the Ukrainian force grouping in Avdiivka and capturing the city. A successful encirclement of Avdiivka, one of the most heavily fortified areas of the Donetsk Oblast front line, would very likely require more forces than Russia has currently dedicated to the Avdiivka-Donetsk City effort. Russian forces have largely deployed irregular forces along this frontline, primarily elements of the 1st Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) Army Corps and additional volunteer formations that have largely suffered from poor and abusive command culture and tensions with regular Russian units. ISW has observed no recent Russian deployments to this line. Russian forces have also conducted grinding offensive operations for relatively minimal territorial gains near Avdiivka for the past year and a half of the war, and the Russian military command is likely aware that an effort to capture Avdiivka would require more and higher-quality units than those currently deployed in the area.The increased Russian offensive operations in the Avdiivka and Zherebyanky areas coincide with other localized offensive efforts in Luhansk Oblast and eastern Zaporizhia Oblast, all likely aimed at fixing Ukrainian forces and preventing Ukrainian command from transferring reserves to critical areas of the front in western Zaporizhia Oblast. Ukrainian officials have made a number of statements within the past few weeks to this effect, particularly noting that Russian attacks along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line are meant to prevent Ukrainians from transferring forces to Zaporizhia Oblast.Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations near Bakhmut and in western Zaporizhia Oblast and made confirmed advances in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area. Geolocated footage published on October 9 indicates that Ukrainian forces advanced northeast of Mykilske (3km southeast of Vuhledar and about 30km southeast of Velyka Novosilka). The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces achieved partial success near Andriivka (7km southwest of Bakhmut). A Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces advanced west of Novofedorivka (15km northeast of Robotyne and 6km northeast of Verbove).Key Takeaways:Russian forces launched localized offensive operations in the Avdiivka area of Donetsk Oblast and southwest of Orikhiv in western Zaporizhia Oblast on October 9, which are likely intended to fix Ukrainian forces away from the Robotyne area.The Ukrainian General Staff confirmed up to three Russian battalions conducted an attack and ISW has observed footage of fighting in the area, but ISW has not observed any confirmation of these claimed Russian advances as of writing.Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations near Bakhmut and in western Zaporizhia Oblast and made confirmed advances in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area.Russian military leadership may have once again replaced the commander of the 58th Combined Arms Army (CAA), suggesting ongoing pervasive Russian command and control issues in western Zaporizhia Oblast.Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced plans to open a new corridor through Moldova and Romania for the export of Ukrainian grain.Russian forces conducted offensive operations along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line, near Bakhmut, along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line, in western Donetsk Oblast, in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area, and in western Zaporizhia Oblast and advanced in some areas on October 10.The Ukrainian Resistance Center reported that Luhansk Oblast occupation authorities are cracking down against Ukrainian underground communication networks.
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