Avdiivka turned into new Bakhmut for Russia as it lost an entire brigade to Ukraine’s offensive

Two Ukrainian soldiers walk along the destroyed city in the fog on October 26, 2023 in Avdiivka, Ukraine. Russia has suffered high troop losses in the fight for the Donetsk city. Vlada Liberova/Getty Images

Russian forces have suffered huge losses of troops in the offensive for Avdiivka, according to two assessments on Saturday about the fight for the city in the eastern Donetsk region.

Avdiivka is considered to be the gateway to the city of Donetsk, occupied by Russia since 2014. Since around October 9, Russia has been intensifying its attacks in an effort to encircle Avdiivka, but it has suffered heavy losses in manpower and equipment, according to numerous reports.

British defense officials have said that Russia had probably committed elements of up to eight brigades to the sector, which have “likely suffered some of Russia’s highest casualty rates of 2023 so far.”

The U.K. MOD update on Saturday also noted how Russian military bloggers had been very critical of Russia’s tactics in the operation, which suggested that Moscow’s core military-political challenge remained the same as it has throughout most of the war.

“Political leaders demand more territory to be seized, but the military cannot generate effective operational-level offensive action,” the update said.

It comes as Ukraine Defense Minister Rustem Umerov said in a phone call with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin that Russia has lost around 7,000 troops in Avdiivka.

During the conversation, Umerov also called for a further supply of ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile Systems) to target military infrastructure and command posts “in the deep rear of the enemy in the occupied Ukrainian territories,” according to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense on Saturday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday that Russia had lost at least a brigade trying to capture Avdiivka. A brigade in the Russian army can include between 2,000 and 8,000 personnel, according to open sources.

Meanwhile, the previous day, U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said Russian forces had suffered thousands of casualties and lost at least 125 armored vehicles in the operation.

Kirby also said that Russian forces are executing those who refuse to follow orders in the Avdiivka direction, as well as Russian commanders threatening to shoot entire units if they retreat from Ukrainian artillery fire.

Meanwhile, on Friday, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said that Russia could not make any confirmed advances, while the Ukrainian General Staff reported that its forces had repelled more than 20 Russian assaults north and west of the town.

Moscow sources described Russian morale near Avdiivka as low. One Russian milblogger said that this was behind his country’s failures at the start of the renewed offensive effort near Avdiivka.

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