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ISW: Russia could replicate Avdiivka's capture tactics if West continues to delay aid

by Dominic Culverwell February 18, 2024 11:20 AM 2 min read
A Ukrainian soldier in the largely destroyed city of Avdiivka, Donetsk Oblast, on Oct. 26, 2023. (Vlada Liberova / Libkos via Getty Images)
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Russia could replicate its successful tactics in Avdiivka on a larger scale if the West continues to delay military assistance, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported on Feb. 17.

The ISW notes that Russian forces secured air superiority during the Avdiivka offensive, while Western delays have hindered Ukraine’s air defense.

After Ukraine's withdrawal from Avdiivka, Defense Minister Rustem Umerov said that Ukraine needs modern air defense systems against Russian glide bombs, long-range weapons to destroy Russian formations, and more artillery shells.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu claimed that Russian forces had “full control” over Avdiivka on Feb. 17. Moscow’s success was largely down to localized air superiority and a new tactic of launching mass glide bomb attacks to support advancing infantry troops, according to the ISW.

Ukrainian Sergeant Yehor Firsov said on national TV that Russian troops launched up to 500 glide bombs at Avdiivka in the last few days.

Oleksandr Borodin, the spokesman of the 3rd separate assault brigade, told public broadcaster Suspilne on Feb. 16 that Russia dropped 60 KAB bombs in one day. “(This) is a very large number on a relatively small area of ​​the front,” he said.

Glide bombs have a 70-kilometer range and allow Russia to launch strikes from further behind the front line.

Ukrainian Air Force Spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat said the only way Ukraine can combat glide bombs is by shooting down the Su-34 and Su-35 planes that drop the bombs.

“Otherwise we will not have enough means to hunt such bombs separately,” he said on national TV.

Ukrainian officials have long stressed the need for further air defense support as supplies are dwindling due to delays from Ukraine’s key allies.

“Ukraine’s military was forced to withdraw from Avdiivka after Ukrainian soldiers had to ration ammunition due to dwindling supplies as a result of congressional inaction, resulting in Russia’s first notable gains in months," U.S. President Joe Biden said on Feb. 17.

Assistance from the U.S., once Ukraine's largest military donor, has mostly run dry as Republicans in Congress refuse to approve additional funding. The Senate recently advanced a foreign aid bill including $60 billion for Ukraine, but the Republican-led House of Representatives has already voiced strong opposition to the legislation

U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby warned on Feb. 15 that an artillery shortage on Ukraine's front lines could lead to the loss of Avdiivka.

Russian forces launched a heavy assault against Avdiivka in October 2023. The city, which lies only kilometers away from Russian-occupied Donetsk, is largely in ruins due to intense fighting.

Zelensky meets US Senators in Munich, discusses Ukraine aid
“Held a meeting with the U.S. Senate delegation in Munich. We spoke about Ukraine’s main defense needs, namely artillery systems and shells, long-range weapons, electronic warfare systems, and air defense support,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Telegram.
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