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Battle for Avdiivka: Russians advance slowly – ISW

Thursday, 14 December 2023, 06:02
Battle for Avdiivka: Russians advance slowly – ISW

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has reported that the Russians continue to advance around Avdiivka in Donetsk Oblast.

Source: the Institute for the Study of War (ISW)

Details: Russian forces continued their offensive near Avdiivka on 13 December and made confirmed advances.


Geolocation footage released on 13 December showed that Russian troops had made minor advances southeast of Stepove (3 kilometres northwest of Avdiivka).

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported that the Ukrainian Defence Forces had repelled at least 51 Russian attacks east of Novokalynove (13 kilometres north-east of Avdiivka) and Novobakhmutivka (9 kilometres north-west of Avdiivka); near Stepove, Avdiivka, Pervomaiske (10 kilometres south-west of Avdiivka) and Nevelske (14 kilometres south-west of Avdiivka); and south of Tonenke (5 kilometres west of Avdiivka) and Sieverne (6 kilometres west of Avdiivka).

Several Russian military bloggers claimed that the occupiers had advanced in the industrial zone (south-west of Avdiivka) and east of the Avdiivka Coke Plant (north-west of the city), although the ISW has not seen any visual evidence of this claim.

A Russian military blogger also claimed that Russian troops continued shelling Ukrainian positions near Stepove and north of Vodiane (7 kilometres south-west of Avdiivka).

ISW map

In addition, Russian forces continued their offensive operations near Bakhmut on 13 December and made confirmed advances.

General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine stated that Ukrainian troops repelled at least five Russian attacks near Bohdanivka (6 kilometres north-west of Bakhmut), Ivanivske (6 kilometres west of Bakhmut), Klishchiivka and Andriivka (10 kilometres south-west of Bakhmut).

Several Russian military bloggers claimed that Russian troops had advanced north-east and east of Bohdanivka and were in control of the Hryhorivka-Bohdanivka road (6-9 kilometres northwest of Bakhmut), although the ISW has not seen any visual evidence of these claims.

Another military blogger claimed that Russian troops had advanced towards Ivanivske along a two-kilometre-wide front and to a depth of 700 metres, although the ISW could not confirm this.

In addition, according to the milblogger, fighting continues near Khromove (west of Bakhmut).

Oleksii Tarasenko, an officer from a Ukrainian brigade operating near Bakhmut, stated that Russian forces were making some progress in the areas of Ivanivske, Klishchiivka and Andriivka, as the Russian military had deployed "selected trained fighters" to these areas three weeks ago, and that the Russian military had recently begun deploying poorly equipped conscripted personnel to these areas, slowing down the advance of Russian forces.

Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces launched unsuccessful ground attacks south of Bakhmut on 13 December. The Russian Ministry of Defence stated that Russian troops had repelled Ukrainian attacks near Klishchiivka and Shumy (23 kilometres south of Bakhmut and 9 kilometres northwest of Horlivka).

To quote the ISW’s Key Takeaways on 13 December: 

  • The Kremlin appears to be returning to expansionist rhetoric last observed before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in an effort to resurface its claims that Ukraine is part of historically Russian territory and discuss the borders Russian leaders regard as appropriate for a rump Ukrainian state.
  • The return of the Kremlin’s notion of a "partitioned Ukraine" is likely an organised effort to mislead the international community into rejecting key components of Ukraine’s sovereignty: its territorial integrity as defined in 1991 and its right to self-determination.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated on 13 December that Ukraine’s decision to transition to defensive operations is motivated by winter weather conditions and not a "crisis," in response to a recent New York Times (NYT) article.
  • Russian and Ukrainian sources continue to report on the impacts of challenging weather conditions on offensive and reconnaissance operations throughout the front, even as reported freezing and snowy winter conditions in eastern Ukraine offer the prospect of better conditions for manoeuvre.
  • The Russian Ministry of Defence is likely using formalised irregular unit commanders as a conduit to spread incorrect information about Russian battlefield successes within the Russian information space in order to circumvent the Ministry of Defence’s responsibility.
  • Russian forces conducted a series of drone and missile strikes on the night of 12-13 December.
  • A Russian hacker group reportedly linked to the Main Directorate of the Russian General Staff (GRU) and a Russia-aligned hacker group both claimed responsibility for the cyberattack on Ukrainian mobile operator Kyivstar.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attended the second Ukraine-Northern Europe Summit in Oslo, Norway, on 13 December.
  • Russian forces continued offensive operations along the Kupiansk-Svatove-Kreminna line, north of and near Bakhmut, near Avdiivka, west of Donetsk City, along the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area, and in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast and advanced in various sectors.
  • The Chuvash Republic is offering bonuses to foreigners who fight in the war in Ukraine, likely as part of efforts to recruit migrants to the Russian military.
  • Occupation authorities continue efforts to destroy Ukrainian national and historical identity. 

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