May 4, 2024

Institute for the Study of War: Russian forces make a ’notable tactical advance’ northeast of Avdiivka following Ukrainian withdrawal

Institute for the Study of War

Russian forces made a notable tactical advance northwest of Avdiivka near Arkhanhelske on the night of May 3 to 4, likely following a Ukrainian decision to withdraw from the area on May 3. A Russian milblogger posted footage on May 4 reportedly of elements of the Russian “Lavina” Battalion of the 132nd Motorized Rifle Brigade (1st Donetsk People’s Republic [DNR] Army Corps) raising a flag in Arkhanhelske, and ISW geolocated this footage to northern Arkhanhelske. Additional geolocated footage published on May 4 indicates that Russian forces advanced in the eastern outskirts of Arkhanhelske. ISW assesses that the Russian seizure of Arkhanhelske also indicates that Russian forces likely control Keramik and Novokalynove (both southeast of Arkhanhelske). Geolocated footage published on May 3 shows Ukrainian forces withdrawing from northern Arkhanhelske, and Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces advanced in the settlement overnight on May 3 to 4 following the Ukrainian withdrawal. A prominent Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces conducted offensive operations to seize Arkhanhelske in several stages, with Russian forces advancing from Ocheretyne (northwest of Avdiivka and southwest of Arkhanhelske) a week ago and Russian forces from Keramik (east of Ocheretyne) seizing the settlement on May 3. Ukrainian forces may have decided to trade space for time as they wait for the arrival of US aid to the frontline at scale in the coming weeks – an appropriate decision for an under-resourced force at risk of being outflanked. ISW continues to assess that Russian forces are likely trying to take advantage of the limited time window before the arrival of Western military aid deliveries by intensifying offensive operations and that Russian forces may make further tactical advances in this area in the near future.

Russian forces appear to be choosing to exploit the tactical situation northwest of Avdiivka – a sound military undertaking – but their ultimate objective in this frontline sector remains unclear. Russian forces appear to be choosing to exploit the area where Russian forces are most likely to make tactical gains in the near future, but it is unclear if they will continue to drive north toward Toretsk or return to their previous focus on Pokrovsk to the northwest. Russian forces have already committed roughly a division’s worth of combat power (comprised mainly of four Central Military District [CMD] brigades) to the frontline northwest of Avdiivka and were reportedly continuing to introduce additional forces in this general area. Ukrainian sources have recently reported that Russia committed elements of the 55th Motorized Rifle Brigade (41st Combined Arms Army, CMD) to the Novobakhmutivka area (south of Ocheretyne). Russian forces were likely to continue to push northwest of Avdiivka as long as there were opportunities to exploit the tactical situation in the area.

Key Takeaways

  • Russian forces made a notable tactical advance northwest of Avdiivka near Arkhanhelske on the night of May 3 to 4, likely following a Ukrainian decision to withdraw from the area on May 3.
  • The Kremlin continues efforts to portray its unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine as something other than what it is while continuing to assert the jurisdiction of Russian federal law over sovereign states.
  • The Russian law enforcement conducted a search on May 4 of supporters of imprisoned Russian ultranationalist and former officer Igor Girkin (aka Strelkov) in Tula Oblast, possibly in an attempt to set information conditions to ban the movement in Russia.
  • Russian forces recently advanced near Avdiivka and Donetsk City and in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area.
  • The Kremlin is continuing its ongoing campaign to centralize control over Donetsk People’s Republic’s (DNR) irregular forces by co-opting DNR commanders and officials.

For full report:   https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-may-4-2024

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