Ukraine’s survival hinges on Avdiivka
Zelenskyy has highlighted the strategic importance of the city
As Russia has intensified efforts to envelop the fortified town of Avdiivka, Ukraine’s military has this week insisted that its opponents are failing to make progress. Avdiivka’s strategic importance was highlighted earlier this month when President Volodymyr Zelenskyy name-checked it alongside other eastern battlegrounds like Bakhmut and Vuhledar as a place where “the future of all Ukrainians is being fought for”.
Russia has cracked through hardened defences, but the Ukrainians are putting up fierce resistance and holding fortified cities along the front, hindering efforts to advance to the next major defensive line centred on Kramatorsk and Slovyansk. One journalist from the Kyiv Independent reported last week on the worsening situation in Avdiivka, describing how “Russian forces have made significant gains,” with the city “nearly surrounded”. He added that “the Ukrainians are holding but are taking […] huge losses.” Yet a few days ago the UK Defence Ministry assessed that the Russian side is also suffering high casualties. Even pro-Kremlin reporter Vladlen Tatarsky noted that Russian equipment is being destroyed by mines.
Like what you’re reading? Get the free UnHerd daily email
Already registered? Sign in
Aside from the increased intensity of fighting around Avdiivka, Russia has been making advances. In recent weeks, Moscow’s forces have captured Novobakhmutivka, Krasnohorivka, and, according to some reports, Kamianka, while they have entered Stepove and are now contesting Vesele.
The town is surrounded from three sides with the intent to cut remaining supply lines, but Russia has yet to make any significant breakthrough in the locality itself. Along with heavy shelling, Russian aviation has become markedly more aggressive, hitting the town with glide bombs to dislodge Ukrainian forces from entrenched positions. This may be partly enabled by Russia’s degradation strategy of targeting air defence systems in the region, as well as Ukraine’s rationing and prioritised allocation of limited AD stock elsewhere.
Although Avdiivka is a small city with a pre-war population of just over 31,000, it is important to both sides for a number of reasons. For Ukraine, it is a position that has been built up during the pre-invasion civil conflict and is part of the complex interconnected defence system running from Zaporizhzhia up to Toretsk, Bakhmut, and Siversk. Politically, the Russian side has identified the shelling of the city of Donetsk as a point of grievance and claims much of the fire comes from the Avdiivka area. It would also be a notable step towards one of Vladimir Putin’s primary objectives in taking the Donbas.
Speaking on its operational importance, Ukraine analyst Alec Bertina told UnHerd that Russian control of the town “would give them multiple options to reinforce operations elsewhere in the theatre or press ahead to create problems in which Ukraine would have to commit more reserves to deal with it.” Bertina made clear that Avdiivka’s fall is not inevitable, as “a potential Ukrainian counter-offensive and unblocking activity in the area could roll back the developing flanks, forcing Russia to divert manpower and heavy weaponry.”
Ukraine has fully committed to holding off Russia’s onslaughts while it readies an armoured core to launch its much-hyped spring offensive to turn the momentum. Ultimately, Zelenskyy believes preserving the current defensive line is crucial in maintaining Western confidence in Ukraine’s capacity to hold off Russian attack, ensure continued arms provisions, and deny the Kremlin military and political victories. Avdiivka is, as Ukraine’s President acknowledges, a central part of that.
Here is my difficulty. There is a lot of propaganda flying about. What to believe and what not to believe? Is there an expert on UnHerd who will step forward and answer my doubts?
The experts – or rather people with accurate information (if not a complete picture) – are those directly involved in the conflict. Even they don’t have the whole picture and will only reveal what they want to. And you’d probably be biased to believe one side over the other.
You have to sample a range of information and make your own judgement. Perhaps start by filtering out stuff you know is *definitely wrong*.
This sort of article isn’t actually very helpful – this is something that is far better explained and understood with graphics (maps, animations, video). Those media are both easier to understand and easier to check – as well as rather harder to make up.
Also, when you read phrases like “huge losses” that are never quantified (how large is “huge”), you could rightly be a little sceptical – after all, the author probably has no better idea of the actual losses than you.
The title doesn’t seem to fit the article here. It seems quite improbable that Ukraine’s survival really depends on a town with 31K [pre-war] inhabitants in the Donbas.
Concur with this. Ex senior military experts will not be in command of correct daily tactical sitreps, nor of the real battlefields strategies being developed. Both sides have an interest in misleading the other and in that they’ll use the general media to their tactical advantage if they can.
What we can discern is some of the broader picture and obviously military experts can look at what is known and give a good view based on experience and knowledge. The fog of war persists but modern comms and social media give insights unavailable in prior conflicts.
One thing remains clear – the side with the existential threat and thus the motivation to fight and fight is the Ukrainians. Their morale will not collapse. The Russians might.
War is a complex phenomenon. It’s “contingent” on an almost infinite number of factors.
Nobody ever knows the real situation until years later. You would have been just as in the dark in July 1944 about how D-Day was going to turn out.
Indeed, if we ever really did know all that, we probably wouldn’t need to fight wars.
The Russians are winning
Are people downvoting this because it’s wrong or because they want to believe it’s wrong?
because it’s just meaningless one liners from a troll who cannot elaborate.
Do elaborate ….
The Western MSM are lying to you, its an artillery war, the Russians fire 20K shells a day, the Ukraine fires about 6K, so the Russians are slowly winning
The Russians have started dropping their version of JDAM bombs on the Ukrainian positions, they will increase this as the Ukraine runs out of S300 missiles, its only going one way. the Russians are winning
I don’t think that true. Russians are running out of ammo.
Yeah I know, they ran out of shells and food in March last year
Since you asked, Chris,…..
Ukraine had, say, 44 million. 2 million were off working in Europe and elsewhere previous. 2 million are refugees in Russia, 10 million are refugees in the West, 10 Million are in the Russian parts and not in the war.
20 Million. Russia, 150 Million.
But that is just one part. David and Goliath, and that fight rarely works other than as expected. No one who knows what is going on thinks otherwise.
Good numbers seem to be 200,000 dead Ukrainian soldiers, 250,000 with injury disability. A military is a spear. 10% the spear point, the front line combat soldiers. Those are used up.
But I would say to watch Colonel MacGregor on youtube. Also Scott Ritter, also of youtube. (although some here play the man, not the ball, and attack these Experts personally rather than professionally, when I mention them). But if you have any interest in this Disaster WE brought to them by forbidding peace, and providing Material, Money, and dozens of $ Billions in sheer corruption payouts, then watch the ones I mention – to get both sides. I believe the ones I mention.
Douglas MacGregor reliably reports spectacular Russian gains/victories every day on YouTube. I suppose he might be right eventually.
Ritter the paedo? I’m surprised he had time to critique the war in between him exposing himself to minors online
Yes, of course, why people won’t just let Russian nationalist imperialism get on with it unopposed is a complete mystery. The Ukranians are begging us to stop helping them, but we won’t listen.
MacGregor seems to be a comedy idiot, who thinks plans are/were afoot to attack Russia. As if anyone would be that crazy.
The first casually of war is truth – so who knows what the true position is. Undoubtedly there is much death and destruction on both sides.
”Ukraine has fully committed to holding off Russia’s onslaughts”
You blood dripping ‘Panderers and Seducers’ (who are assigned to Dante’s 8th ring of hell) who have led Ukraine down this path to their utter ruination – how wicked you are!
” Ultimately, Zelenskyy believes preserving the current defensive line is crucial in maintaining”
Ultimately Zelensky knows he is a dead man walking. The people know his handing over the nation to become the geo-political Chess Board for the Neo-Cons to conduct their global Proxy War on, with the Ukrainian young men to be the pawns to be slaughtered, is the greatest disaster self induced in centuries. He is backed into his bunker as were the Axis leaders of WWII at the end. Cannot win, cannot stop. He has to serve the devil he sold himself to and keep fighting – if he is to be whisked off at the end to some protected compound in USA to serve out his last days in cheap luxury and despair; and not just be shot.
I can not 100% figure out what Biden and Boris were after by stopping peace negotiations and creating this WWIII – sometimes I wonder if this slaughter is just do distract voters from the Covid mis-management. But I doubt it. Psychopathy played a huge part though. As did the billions from lobbyists of the Military Industrial Complex, and as a way to destroy Europe to further the Anglosphere, and most of all, because their Masters told them to do it to break the global economy – and thus to shepherd in the Great Reset, CBDCs and the people of the West made poor and so controllable and a subject people.
Everything you say about Zelensky is true about Putin and false about Zelensky. Pure projection.
I think you need help getting all these absurd conspiracy theories out of your head.
Yes it’s not Russia’s fault it invaded Ukraine, why do people keep criticising them for it?
Avdiivka rather replicates the battle of Stalingrad.
Instead of crossing the Volga and enveloping the city in a wide sweep, the Germans chose to engage in costly street-by-street battles. The city was almost taken–until the Russians launched the counterattack that trapped the entire Sixth Army inside.
Ironic that the Ukrainians seem to remember far more of the real battle than Putin’s generals.
But only time will tell just who comes out on top.
And most of the captured Germans were treated as slave labour for years and worked to death – not something Ukraine’s allies are likely to countenance for the captured Russian Army.
Join the discussion
To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.
Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.Subscribe