The Russian military tried to catch the Ukrainians off guard and achieve an important victory, while Kyiv’s forces were focused on their large-scale counteroffensive.
But the Russian military’s push in the direction of Avdiivka failed to achieve a quick victory and cost Moscow dearly.
Active Defense and Russian Incompetence
Speaking to Russian state television on Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin referred to operations around Avdiivka as “active defense,” likely in an attempt to excuse the failed counterattacks and concomitant heavy losses.
“Russian forces continued offensive operations aimed at encircling Avdiivka on October 15 but have yet to make further gains amid a likely decreasing tempo of Russian operations in the area,” the Institute for the Study of War assessed in its latest operational estimate on the war.
Both sides have, at the most, four weeks of reasonably good weather before the rain, mud, and low temperatures restrict large-scale mechanized warfare of the type necessary to achieve an operational breakthrough.
“Russian forces will likely continue offensive operations at this decreased tempo in the near term, however, and will remain a threat to Ukrainian forces in the area despite being unlikely to achieve a decisive breakthrough or encircle Avdiivka at this time,” the Washington, D.C.-based think tank added.
But one main reason for the failure of the operation is the poor state of the Russian forces. Indeed, the poor training of the Russian forces keeps coming up. During the counterattacks against the Ukrainian positions around Avdiivka, the crew of a Russian T-62 main battle tank road in broad light over a line of Ukrainian anti-tank mines that were lying on a field. Not underneath the ground, not camouflaged, just lying there for everyone to see. But still, the Russian tank went straight for them.
Russian Casualties in Ukraine
Tactical incompetence costs dearly, as the Russian frontline units around Avdiivka have found out. On day 600 of the Kremlin’s “special military operation” in Ukraine, the Russian military and pro-Russian separatist forces continue to take extremely heavy losses on the ground. The offensive push in the Donbas cost Moscow more than one brigade of troops.
Over the past six days, the Kremlin lost over 5,500 men, 256 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 203 artillery pieces and multiple launch rocket systems, 146 tactical and support vehicles, and 136 main battle tanks.
After several weeks of relatively low casualties, the Russian forces are once more losing an extremely high number of men each day. Indeed, the average now hovers over 900 men killed, wounded, and captured every day.
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Monday, Ukrainian forces have killed and wounded approximately 288,630 Russian troops, destroyed 323 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 317 attack and transport helicopters, 4,965 tanks, 6,910 artillery pieces, 9,385 armored personnel carriers, and infantry fighting vehicles, 814 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 21 warships, submarines, boats, and cutters, 9,271 vehicles, and fuel tanks, 547 anti-aircraft batteries, 5,280 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 981 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 1,531 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.
A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations and a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ). He holds a BA from the Johns Hopkins University, an MA from the Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and is pursuing a J.D. at Boston College Law School. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.