Russia is ready to risk aviation losses for tactical advance on Avdiivka front – ISW

Sunday, 3 March 2024, 05:44

Experts at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) report that the Russian army is willing to risk further losses of its aircraft in pursuit of tactical advantages on the Avdiivka front.

Source: Institute for the Study of War (ISW)

Quote: "Russian forces appear to be willing to risk continued aviation losses in pursuit of tactical gains in eastern Ukraine, likely along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line."

Details: Ukraine's Air Force reported on 2 March that Ukrainian forces had destroyed one Su-34 aircraft that had bombed Ukrainian positions in eastern Ukraine on the morning of 1 March.

Ukrainian Air Force Commander Mykola Oleshchuk later stated that Ukrainian forces tried to shoot down two more Russian Su-34s and one Su-35 and shot down one of the Su-34s.

The Ukrainian military reported that the Defence Forces had shot down 15 Russian aircraft since 17 February.

Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yurii Ihnat said that Russian forces have not deployed A-50 long-range radar detection aircraft over the Azov Sea in the past six days following the downing of an A-50 on 23 February, and suggested that the absence of A-50s is forcing Russian Su-34 and Su-35 aircraft to fly closer to their targets to launch strikes.

The report notes that previous losses of Russian aircraft prompted Russian troops to reduce aviation activity throughout Ukraine temporarily, but the increase in the number of Russian aircraft losses in Ukraine in recent weeks has not yet forced the Russians to reduce tactical aircraft activity significantly.

According to ISW, Russian forces temporarily established a limited and localised air superiority in the last days of the capture of Avdiivka. They are likely attempting to re-establish this limited and localised air superiority to support the tactical advance of Russian forces on the Avdiivka front and have decided that continuing to conduct offensive operations with air support outweighs the risk of losing more aircraft.

ISW estimates that the loss of 15 aircraft and possibly several highly skilled pilots over the course of approximately two weeks is not insignificant for the Russian military, given that Russia likely has around 300 different Sukhoi fighters.

To quote the ISW’s Key Takeaways on 2 March: 

  • Russian forces appear to be willing to risk continued aviation losses in pursuit of tactical gains in eastern Ukraine, likely along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line.
  • Transfers of North Korean weapons to Russia by sea apparently paused as of mid-February 2024.
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov publicly rejected Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent offer to host a negotiation platform for Russia and Ukraine.
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov used the Antalya Diplomatic Forum to promote Kremlin narratives about Moldova, likely to set conditions for potential Kremlin hybrid operations that aim to destabilise Moldova and prevent Moldova’s accession to the European Union (EU).
  • Senior Russian officials acknowledged Armenia’s reduced participation in the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), marking a notable shift in Russian official rhetoric that previously sought to ignore Armenian efforts to distance itself from the CSTO.
  • The Kremlin appears to have largely permitted displays of anti-war sentiment in Moscow as Russians observed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s funeral on 1 March.
  • Russian forces made confirmed advances near Kreminna, Avdiivka, and Krynky on 2 March.
  • Russian Deputy Defence Minister Timur Ivanov inspected a Russian shipbuilding facility and the construction site of a new military hospital in the Republic of Dagestan during a working trip to Russia’s Southern Military District on 2 March.

Support UP or become our patron!