The Avdiivka Offensive

Avdiivka….the last few days it became clear why the Russians inserted their 25th CAA into the sector Svatove-Kremina, and withdrew the 1st GT and the 41st CAA from there, back in September: they’ve re-filled battered units, and then re-deployed them in the Avdiivka sector. Four days ago, these have launched a pincer attack, supported by heavy air strikes (mostly ‘spray & pray’ style, by Su-25s, but few by Ka-52s and Mi-28s), and extensive volumes of artillery fire.

Sufficient to say that as of the morning of 10 October, this counteroffensive ended in a veritable catastrophe. Essentially, at least two, possibly three huge Russian columns were detected (by UAVs)  while still some 5,000-10,000 metres behind the frontline. And hit by artillery. The carnage continued as they continued pushing in the same direction, and by the time they actually crossed over ‘starting positions’ – only to run into minefields and receive yet more of artillery fire – most of mechanised force was decimated. Thus, it was primarily on Storm-Z convicts, supported by few scattered tanks and infantry fighting vehicles to try advancing….videos of their attempted advances were…. ‘grim’.  

As far as I can say, the Russians pushed hardest on positions of the 116th TD Brigade, but even this experienced few problems to beat them back. The 79th Airborne had some ‘good times’, too.

Ukrainians are reporting the total scope of this Russian operation with, ‘unseen since the first days of the war’. Much larger than during attacks on Vuhledar from January-February this year. Just awfully planned, composed, and run. They are estimating losses of the 90th Tank Division alone at 820 killed and wounded, about 80 armoured vehicles (including at least one BMPT Terminator), 18 artillery pieces, more than a dozen of multiple rocket launchers, and about 30 other vehicles. The VKS lost at least one Su-25.

Comment: There was a lot of anticipation brewing about this Russian offensive. I’ve even seen a bit of here. But, as Tom Cooper describes, the Russian offensive failed miserably. In the process, the Russians lost a lot of men and equipment. It was a repeat of the failure before Vuhledar back in January. The lesson of that battle was that advances led by armored columns don’t work anymore… at least when opposed by highly accurate artillery and ATGM fires, rapidly emplaced extensive minefields and, of course, ubiquitous drones. The Ukrainians learned that lesson for themselves in the first few days of their counteroffensive. Apparently that wasn’t enough evidence for the Russians. They had to test the hypothesis once again before Avdiivka. Well, the results were indeed repeatable. The hypothesis has, at the minimum, reached the level of tested theory. Eureka!

The goal of the Avdiivka offensive was to encircle and eventually take the city. In the process, it was to draw Ukrainian reserves away from the Melitopol and Bakhmut fronts. It was a reasonable assumption. The cry of “Avdiivka Holds!” was surely as alluring as “Bakhmut Holds!” and “Severodonetsk Holds!” before that to the Ukrainians. Unfortunately for the Russians, the armored columns were defeated without the help of Ukrainian strategic reserves. What the offensive accomplished was to aid the Ukrainian strategy of attriting Russian forces. The Russians took a hell of a shellacking in a few days. And it took them months to assemble those forces.

On the other hand, this shows the Russians are not reduced to a state of passive inaction. They can still plan and resource offensive action. They just can’t carry it out. It also means a Russian military collapse is far from imminent. The Russians have proven they can defend competently. Their mistake lies in trying to carry out offensive actions forward of their defensive lines rather than limiting their offensive action to hitting Ukrainian penetrations of those defenses. I think the Ukrainians have picked up on this weakness and have modified their tactics accordingly. Their goal, for now, is to find and fix Russian forces in place and destroy them rather than gain ground. Those tactics are forcing the Russian units to sally forth from their defensive positions to be picked off by precision artillery strikes and kamikaze drones.


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17 Responses to The Avdiivka Offensive

  1. Jovan P says:

    When the Avdevka fortress falls, the shelling of Donetsk will stop.

  2. Whitewall says:

    With Russian losses like this and there are no known repercussions within the Kremlin?

    • TTG says:


      I doubt the losses are what would bother the Kremlin. If there are any repercussions it would be over failing to take Avdiivka.

  3. F&L says:

    Wagner, their crack fighting force is destroyed or dispersed.
    And one of their best military thinkers is in prison – Strelkov.

  4. Mark Logan says:

    On the matter of Russian morale, something Preston Stewart posted, about a report from a credible source on how, for the Russian peasantry, this war is an opportunity to make life-changing coin.

    A plausible explanation, anyway. If I were a Russian peasant I would put be looking to place some heavy chips on life-change myself.

    • F&L says:

      Mark Logan
      An excellent piece. Our Emperor and Empress – Joe’s Self and Kaahmalaaa – do they know this stuff? Russia is gigantic, does Preston realize that if Moscow disappeared next week via meteor or missile that a good number in the outback wouldn’t notice, care too much or even experience a sense of satisfaction? I get the feeling that he does. This is what Putin’s tough guy image is designed to appeal to – Rooskie Bubba. In reality he speaks the Russian of the highly educated Soviet era and enjoys classical music though he had a hooligan youth and is undoubtedly a “martial arts afficionado” if “thug” is not to your taste. The only rain I can think of to pour on Mr Stewart’s parade is that this model they’re using to reconstruct their army is a really expensive contract model supplemented with hefty bonuses, not a conscription model. That’s a huge advance over their sorry history but it is going to run into serious difficulty due to their worsening economic problems. It’s likely to remain at loggerheads for years. The thing which will ruin the Russians is not the actual combat, it’s the sanctions and their enslavement to China rather than trade with Europe. We, however are governed by idiots, geriatrics and madmen and are poodles of the British and Israelis / neocons. Attacking the nuclear reactors at Kursk and Smolensk is not only a sign of depravity, it’s a recipe for disaster. The Israelis have already made 500,000 people homeless in Gaza. Now they are demanding that 1.1 million in the north move themselves to the southern parts – a death march. Someone said last night that Netanyahu is a hybrid of Hitler and Pol Pot.

      • Mark Logan says:


        Always watch out for those rural/farmboys in war. FIDO is their natural mantra. Have you read Andy Exum’s “Paintballing with Hezbollah? Worth a google.

        I would quibble with the label “Mr. Stewart’s parade”. He’s a good thinker and is not playing advocacy games, which is clear to me after following him for a time. An articulate combat vet West Pointer who eschews the suit and tie, which I hope keeps him from the soul-killing fate of joining the ranks the Cable News Ex-Mil Zombies. I suspect Preston to be someone Pat would’ve been happy to take under wing and Preston would’ve been happy to accept that wing.

      • English Outsider says:

        Don’t want to upset you, F&L. You write fascinating comments and unearth a treasury of links.

        But most of your comment above is bullshit.

  5. Fred says:

    “Furthermore, the majority of Russian forces currently fighting in the Avdiivka area are likely elements of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) 1st Army Corps, which the Russian 8th Combined Arms Army predominantly controls.[9] ISW has not observed any 8th Combined Arms Army elements not from DNR formations involved in ongoing attacks, and ISW assesses current Russian offensive efforts in the Avdiivka area are likely primarily comprised of DNR forces. ”

    So not the Russian regulars per the ISW?
    “Russian occupation authorities are suffering staff shortages at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP). Ukrainian Enerhodar Mayor Dmytro Orlov stated in an article published on October 11 that only about 2,000 of the 11,000 total staff who worked at the ZNPP prior to Russia’s occupation of Enerhodar continue to work there.”

    It will be hard to keep that going without adequate maintenance.

  6. leith says:

    They keep trying to catch Ukraine troops in a Cauldron. Or maybe Avdiivka being so small it is considered a Sack (мешок in Russkie lingo) instead of a Cauldron. But they have not been able to spring such a trap since 2014. They were successful back in 2014 when an major Russian troop force crossed the border and caught Ukrainians in a Cauldron at Ilovaisk. And they were almost successful at Debaltseve in the same era. Since February 2022 they have tried it multiple times but all failed.
    I’m surprised they have not yet tried it at the Orikhiv/Robotne salient on the Zaporhizhzhia Front.

    But the Ukrainians were able to use a Cauldron at Lyman just last year where they inflicted heavy casualties on LPR militias and Russian mechanized units

    • Fred says:

      So the last true Ukrainian victory was a year ago and the rest is a war of attrition?

      • leith says:

        Fred –

        You are right.

        But on the other side, the last Russian one was Priggy’s pyhhric victory in Bakhmut. He admitted to losing 20,000 KIA there. Girkin says it was more like 40,000. Some are saying that including wounded there were 100,000 casualties.

        But wait! The Battle of Bakhmut is not over yet, it’s still ongoing. Ukraine just recently retook Andriivka and the Klishchiivka heights on Bakhmut’s flank making Russian forces there into fish-in-a-barrel.

        • Fred says:


          Ukraine is over. Now it on to the defense of the”Best ally” and retribution for the new holocaust. The uniparty is out in front (of the spending) on that one.

  7. d74 says:

    Wet dreams at Hollywood.
    I have no argument for that. Nor does the author.

  8. F&L says:

    Mosfilm just uploaded a restored version of this 1989 classic. It says stuff about it being in some way a joint effort with some US film makers, so I looked. I’ve seen it before but this is better – they’ve bedded the subs instead of the older ones which floated over the screen. The footage at minute 14 or so provides an interesting then vs now comparison regarding TTG’s observation on the oxidation of attacks of armored columns. I’m up to minute 21 – the Soviet offensive on Kharkov has failed badly. Zhukov advised against it but Stalin went with the overly confident Timoshenko.

    It’s interesting to see Mikhail Ulyanov as Marshall Zhukov, having last week finally watched him 20 years younger as Dmitri in the 1969 Brothers Karamazov, which Mosfilm also uploaded in 3 parts recently, in a fantastic restoration by Karen Shaknazerov.

    I made it half way through the American 1959 version starting Yul Brynner as Dmitri, Maria Schell as Grushenka, Claire Bloom as Katya Alexandrovna, William Shatner as Alyosha, Richard Basehardt as Ivan and Lee J Cobb as the father Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov. Of course with such a cast it’s very powerful but despite Lee J Cobb’s monumental presence and incomparable acting.

    Maria Schell is ravishingly beautiful and a fantastic Grushenka, Brynner a powerful Dmitri but not quite right imo, awesome but not after seeing Ulyanov’s Dmitri who is perfect. Lionella Pyryueva as Grushenka in the Soviet version gives maybe the finest performance I’ve ever seen in any film ever. Lee J Cobb is too much the awesome Freudian Old Testament patriarch and primitives horde chieftain to be faithful. But Freudian psychiatry was all the rage in 1959 America. Nonetheless he’s magnificent it’s not his fault. The Soviet Fyodor Pavlovich is much more faithful to the text, where he was in addition to being one of the most atrocious criminals in human literature he was a hilarious, insanely ridiculous buffoon. The ending with Kiril Lavrov as Ivan, going mad in defense of his innocent brother Dmitri at the trial is also one of the most impressive cinematic performances I’ve ever seen.

    Turns out I was right about the Galibri & Mavik hit “Proshai Alyoshka” because that’s exactly what Lionella Pyrueva’s Grushenka yells repeatedly to youngest brother Alyosha as she drives away in the sled to Siberia to accompany Dmitri in imprisonment and exile.

    I think the Soviets also made an excellent choice by omitting entirely the substory of dying Captain Snegirov and his little son Ilyusha. Though it’s very touching and Dostoevsky wanted badly to write a book about children it’s a distraction, commented on by critics of the book which is overly long. He intended other volumes but died at age 61 almost simultaneously with the murder of Tsar Alexander II in 1881 publishing Brothers K in 1879.

    Maybe I should have held my comments back till finishing the Lee J Cobb and Maria Schell version, who knows?

    Battle of Stalingrad, Part One (1989) Russian w English subtitles.

    Brothers Karamazov Part I (1969: Mosfilm)

    The Brothers Karamazov 1958 Yul Brynner, Lee J Cobb, Maria Schell

    Galibri & Mavik – Proshai (Farewell) Alyoshka

  9. alexandar says:

    “They are estimating losses of the 90th Tank Division alone at 820 killed and wounded, about 80 armoured vehicles (including at least one BMPT Terminator), 18 artillery pieces, more than a dozen of multiple rocket launchers, and about 30 other vehicles. ”

    If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell……..

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