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ISW: Avdiivka a microcosm of Russian command's 'wider failure'

by Abbey Fenbert November 2, 2023 6:40 AM 2 min read
A Ukrainian police officer conducts evacuation work in Avdiivka amid intensifying fighting on Oct. 30, 2023. (Vlada Liberova / Libkos via Getty Images)
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The situation near the battleground city of Avdiivka illustrates the Russian military command's inability to learn from past mistakes, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) wrote in its Nov. 1 report.

"Avdiivka is a microcosm of the Russian General Staff’s wider failure to internalize and disseminate lessons learned by Russian forces during previous failed offensive efforts in Ukraine," analysts said.

The ISW cited "similarly catastrophic" Russian infantry assaults involving armored vehicles, particularly a winter offensive in western Donetsk Oblast last year. Russia's campaign against the well-fortified settlement of Vuhledar resulted in heavy equipment and personnel losses.

According to the ISW, Russian forces have launched such attacks in multiple sectors of the Ukrainian front since the start of the all-out war.

The current offensive near Avdiivka has also led to intense casualties among Russian troops, signaling a deeper strategic failure.

"The fact that two very distinct groupings of forces have engaged in similarly ineffective operations suggests that the Russian military command is struggling to learn and disseminate lessons across the theater," the ISW said.

The ISW specifically noted the negligence of Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov, calling him "ultimately responsible for this failure." The institute's analysts compared Gerasimov unfavorably to Valerii Zaluzhnyi, the commander-in-chief of Ukraine's Armed Forces.  

Zaluzhnyi's analysis of the war, published in a Nov. 1 column for the Economist, represented a "thoughtful and public evaluation" of Ukraine's military challenges, in contrast to Gerasimov's floundering, the ISW said.

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