November 24, 2023

Institute for the Study of War: Russians renew their offensive towards Avdiivka after enormous losses in manpower and armor in the past six weeks

Institute for the Study of War

Ukrainian officials reported that Russian forces began a renewed offensive effort towards Avdiivka on November 22, although likely with weaker mechanized capabilities than in the previous offensive waves that occurred in October. Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Commander Brigadier General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi reported on November 23 that Russian forces launched a “third wave” of assaults as part of the Russia offensive operation in the Avdiivka direction, and Tavriisk Group of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Oleksandr Shtupun stated that this “third wave” began on November 22. Shtupun reported a 25 to 30 percent increase in Russian ground attacks near Avdiivka on November 22 and stated that Ukrainian forces repelled several Russian columns of roughly a dozen armored vehicles in total during assaults. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled at least 50 Russian assaults in the Avdiivka direction on November 23 and 24. Russian sources claimed that Russian forces continued offensive operations on Avdiivka’s northern and southern flanks but did not characterize any Russian assaults as heavily mechanized. Russian sources claimed that Russian forces continued to advance north of Avdiivka and made further gains in the industrial zone southeast of Avdiivka but did not make any territorial claims consistent with a successful renewed large-scale Russian offensive push.

Shtupun stated that Ukrainian forces destroyed three Russian tanks and seven armored fighting vehicles on November 22, suggesting that Russian forces are currently conducting a smaller set of mechanized assaults than in October. Ukrainian officials reported that Russian forces lost 50 tanks and 100 armored vehicles in renewed assaults on Avdiivka on October 19 and 15 tanks and 33 armored vehicles during the initial large, mechanized assaults on October 10. Russian forces have lost a confirmed 197 damaged and destroyed vehicles in offensive operations near Avdiivka since October 9, and the Russian military appeared to spend the end of October and all of November preparing for a wave of highly attritional infantry-led ground assaults to compensate for these heavy-equipment losses. Large infantry-led ground assaults will likely pose a significant threat to Ukrainian forces defending in the Avdiivka direction but will not lead to a rapid Russian advance in the area.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ukrainian officials reported that Russian forces began a renewed offensive effort towards Avdiivka on November 22, although likely with weaker mechanized capabilities than in the previous offensive waves that occurred in October.
  • High-ranking Russian officials may be engaged in a wider scheme of forcibly adopting deported Ukrainian children.
  • Ukraine’s Western allies declared their commitment to further develop Ukrainian air defense capabilities during the 17th Ramstein Group virtual meeting on November 22.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin attended the Collective Security Treaty Organization’s (CSTO) Collective Security Council session in Minsk, Belarus on November 23 against the background of Armenia’s continued absence from recent CSTO events and exercises.
  • Chinese businesses, including a prominent state-owned Chinese construction firm, are reportedly working with Russian businessmen to plan the construction of an underwater tunnel that would connect Russia with occupied Crimea.
  • European states are responding to Russia’s continued orchestration of an artificially created migrant crisis on its northwestern borders.
  • The Russian Strelkov (Igor Girkin) Movement (RDS) called prior Russian regional elections and the upcoming Russian presidential election illegitimate, likely in an effort to establish Girkin’s inevitable presidential election loss as a long-standing grievance.
  • Russian law enforcement reportedly detained about 700 migrants at a warehouse in Moscow Oblast and issued some military summonses, likely as part of an ongoing effort to coerce migrants into Russian military service.
  • The Kremlin is reportedly renewing attempts to control all video surveillance systems in Russia, likely as part of ongoing efforts to intensify its tools of digital authoritarianism to increase domestic repressions.
  • Russian forces conducted ground attacks along the Svatove-Kreminna line, near Bakhmut, near Avdiivka, west and southwest of Donetsk City, in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area, and in western Zaporizhia Oblast and marginally advanced in some areas.
  • The Russian aviation industry is likely under significant constraints due to international sanctions and demands from the Russian defense industrial base (DIB).
  • The Russian occupation authorities continue efforts to indoctrinate Ukrainian children in occupied Ukraine into Russian national and cultural identities.
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