The Siege of Adviivka Guide: What We Learned From Mariupol and Bakhmut
As the encirclement of Avidiivka commences, we can draw a few lessons from what we learned in the sieges of Mariupol and Bakhmut.
First of all – advances will probably be slow.
In today’s peer to peer warfare, the ISTAR capabilities of the defenders and the prevalence of field artillery mean that attackers are usually at a great disadvantage.
ISTAR stands for ‘intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance’. It basically means that the days of the ‘surprise attack’ in the Ukrainian theatre of war are pretty much over.
Any meaningful advance of troops and equipment is immediately detected and artillery and drone hell rain on the slowly advancing forces that try to dodge the extensive minefields.
While Ukrainians on their hyped offensive could not break the formidable Russian entrenched defense lines, the Russians have proved to be capable to take high value targets – but it’s long and bloody.
The second important lesson from past sieges in this war has to do with the coverage by the MSM.
It plays like this: all the time, it is stressed how horribly failing they are, how they don’t have a chance, sing praises for the impenetrable Ukrainian defenses.
Meanwhile, the Russians will be losing the war in the headlines but winning in the ground, until they finally take the city.
Then, a key defensive bastion like Avdiivka will be rebranded as a minor non-strategic place.
Right now, we are in phase one, in which Russia takes an important stronghold while the MSM assures us they have no chance.
Since Russian and Ukrainian forces are fighting fierce battles around Avdiivka, the MSM can’t simply ignore it.
But they will try to frame it via President Volodymyr Zelensky’s view: Ukrainian forces are holding their ground.
But they also add that municipal officials say that Russian attacks are ‘relentless’.
“Kyiv says Moscow has redirected many soldiers and large amounts of equipment to the Avdiivka area, showing it can hit back over four months into a Ukrainian counteroffensive in the east and south that has encountered stiff Russian resistance.
‘Avdiivka. We are holding our ground. It is Ukrainian courage and unity that will determine how this war will end’, Zelensky wrote on the Telegram messaging app alongside photos of Ukrainian troops and of Avdiivka’s entrance sign.
[…] Vitaliy Barabash, head of the city military administration, told Ukrainian television: ‘The enemy does not stop storming, they come from all directions’.”
Avdiivka, home to a big coking refinery plant, lies just northwest of the Russian-held city of Donetsk.
Reuters describes how ‘it has become a symbol of resistance since 2014’ – let’s take note.
“Andriy Yermak, the head of the president’s office, said Russia’s attacks appeared designed to draw Ukrainian soldiers from fighting on other fronts, though he did not mention Avdiivka specifically.”
While Ukrainian officials may want to portray as this a diversionary move, look at how the BBC is describing it:
“Russian troops have launched a major offensive on the town of Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine. Three battalions involving some 2,000 troops, dozens of armored vehicles as well as jets have been reportedly involved in what is described as the largest-scale attack in this area.
[…] ‘They launched their offensive on a wide front’, Serhiy Tsekhovsky, an officer from the 59th brigade, told the BBC.
‘Since the beginning of the invasion, we haven’t dealt with such an intensive attack [in the area near Avdiivka]. They are using multiple rocket launchers, artillery, tanks and infantry – all at the same time’.”
BBC is careful to describe Avdiivka as ‘ a symbol of Ukrainian resistance and resilience’ and ‘a gateway to the city of Donetsk’, the capital of Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. And why is that important?
Russia and the DPR forces have occupied Donetsk city since 2014, but ‘they have been unable to use it key military communications hub because it is too close to the front line’.
If and when they capture Avdiivka, Russians can push the front line away.
Take note, because as soon as the fall is inevitable, we will start to read about how Avdiivka is nothing but a meaningless outpost.
“‘On average, there are 50-60 instances of intense shelling with artillery and rockets targeting the town’, says Vitaliy Barabash, the head of Avdiivka’s military administration. ‘As for military positions, they get hit at least 500-600 times a day’.”
Russian try to seizing the villages of Berdyche and Stepove to the north and the villages of Tonenke and Severne to the south of the city.
Russian Telegram channels are showing additional movement, as in this post where Slavyangrad translates military correspondent RVvoenkor.
“The most important fortress of the enemy has fallen : the waste heap near the Avdeevsky coke plant was taken by the Russian army
Throughout the day, north of Avdeevka, there was a battle for an important dominant height – the Avdeevka waste heap. Russian troops, supported by armored vehicles, aviation and artillery, attacked from two directions.
During fierce battles, our fighters knocked out the enemy, partially destroying them and partially forcing them to flee towards Avdeevka.
Taking this height makes it possible to control the approaches to the northern outskirts of Avdeevka.”
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