October 16, 2023

Institute for the Study of War: Russian offensive slows in Avdiivka amid more heavy losses of troops and armor

Institute for the Study of War

Russian forces continued offensive operations in the Avdiivka direction on October 16 and recently made some gains, albeit at a relatively slower pace than in the initial attacks. Geolocated footage posted on October 16 shows that Russian forces have marginally advanced past the E50 road about 3km south of Avdiivka. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled a total of 22 Russian attacks in the Avdiivka direction in the past day, notably fewer than the 30 reported attacks on October 15. Russian sources noted that Russian forces have increased the intensity of air and artillery strikes on the settlement in order to compensate for slow ground maneuvers, which are complicated by heavy Ukrainian fortifications surrounding Avdiivka. During a meeting on the operational situation in Ukraine on October 16, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu claimed that Russian forces have improved their tactical positions in unspecified areas and that the Russian “active defense” along the front, including near Avdiivka, is prohibiting Ukrainian advances.

Ukrainian forces continued offensive operations near Bakhmut and in western Zaporizhia Oblast on October 16. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces conducted offensive operations in the Melitopol (western Zaporizhia Oblast) and Bakhmut directions. Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted assaults near Avdiivka and on Verbove’s western and northwestern outskirts (10km east of Robotyne or 18km southwest of Orikhiv). Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces are within 200 to 300 meters of Russian positions west of Verbove.

Russian forces conducted a drone and missile strike against Ukrainian rear areas on the night of October 15-16. Ukrainian military sources reported that Russian forces launched five Kh-59 cruise missiles, one Iskander ballistic missile in eastern and southern Ukraine, and 12 Shahed-131/136 drones in western Ukraine. Ukrainian air defense reportedly destroyed two of the Kh-59s and 11 Shahed drones. Ukrainian officials reported explosions near Myrhorod, Poltava Oblast, and in Kirovohrad Oblast. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that one strike destroyed a Ukrainian communication center at the Myrhorod airfield in Poltava Oblast.

Key Takeaways:

  • Russia likely deployed elements of at least two Central Military District (CMD) brigades to reinforce offensive operations by Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) forces on the Avdiivka front.
  • Ukrainian forces continued offensive operations near Bakhmut and in western Zaporizhia Oblast on October 16.
  • A new Russian procedure restricting the border checkpoints that Ukrainians can use to enter Russia from third countries came into force on October 16, effectively only allowing Ukrainians to enter Russia from third countries through the Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow.
  • A group of Russian lawyers appear to be challenging the Kremlin’s precariously crafted veneer of legality surrounding the Russian judicial system, calling for a strike three days after Russian authorities arrested four lawyers on extremism charges.
  • Russian forces conducted offensive operations along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line, in the Bakhmut direction, near Avdiivka, southwest of Donetsk City, in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area, and in western Zaporizhia Oblast and advanced in some areas.
  • The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) reported further details on ongoing North Korean weapons shipments to Russia on October 16.
  • Senior Russian officials reiterated boilerplate narratives about the Ukrainian counteroffensive and the Israel-Hamas war during a Russian Security Council meeting on October 16 likely to deter Western support for Ukraine.
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