Russia continues to engage in the largest offensive it has conducted in Ukraine this year.
Since October 10, Vladimir Putin’s troops have launched waves of attacks on Avdiivka, a city in eastern Ukraine that used to be home to some 30,000 people before being threatened by Russian bombs and troops.
However, they have so far achieved little success against Ukraine’s army, gaining only metres of terrain at a heavy price.
Now, Russians may be running out of time to seize the initiative and conquer an area that could be hugely beneficial for several of Moscow’s troops during the freezing months.
Konrad Muzyka, director of a Poland-based group tracking the progress of the war called Rochan Consulting, believes Russia’s overall objective in Avdiivka is to gain access to the M-04 highway and allow train traffic to resume on the Yasinovata-Donetsk railway line severed in 2014.
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A similar victory would create a fresh supply route to Moscow’s forces currently facing Ukraine’s counter-offensive.
Mr Muzyka told the Financial Times: “Without a properly functioning logistic system, the Russian ability to sustain its forces in the Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia [regions] may face some hurdles during the upcoming winter.”
Avdiivka sits just five miles northwest of Donetsk, the city capital of the homonym region that has been occupied by Russia since 2014.
By retaining hold of Avdiivka, Ukraine is keeping pressure on the Russian supply lines in the area as well as maintaining a gateway to the occupied city which Kyiv hopes to gain back.
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Moreover, by fighting Russia in Avdiivka Ukraine is forcing Moscow’s troops to use up crucial resources and men.
Several reports have claimed in the past days Russia is experiencing devastating losses in Avdiivka.
Last week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed Russian forces had lost at least an entire brigade of troops while trying to take Avdiivka.
The size of a brigade can vary, encompassing anywhere from 1,500 to 8,000 soldiers.
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Kyiv also claimed that, on October 19 alone, Russia lost more than 1,000 staff, 55 tanks and 120 armoured fighting vehicles.
And the Institute for the Study of the War wrote in one of its assessments of the conflict in Ukraine: “Satellite imagery has confirmed that the Russian military has lost at least 109 military vehicles, primarily armoured fighting vehicles and tanks, near Avdiivka between October 10 and 20.”
The figures could not be independently verified. However, the Ukrainian armed forces posted several videos showing the destruction on the Russian side.
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