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ISW: Russia has not demonstrated ability to secure significant gains across large territories

by Dmytro Basmat February 19, 2024 4:50 AM 2 min read
The sign marking the entrance of Avdiivka is seen amid artillery shelling on Dec. 31, 2023, in Avdiivka, Donetsk Oblast. (Pierre Crom/Getty Images)
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Despite Russia's capture of Avdiivka, Russian forces have not yet demonstrated an ability to secure significant gains across large swaths of territory, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) assessed in its report on Feb. 18.

"The capture of Avdiivka should not be taken as demonstrating this capability," the ISW's report states, referring to Russia's lack of tactical gain.

Since Russia intensified its efforts around Avdiivka in Donetsk Oblast in October 2023, Russian forces have only managed to capture fewer than 10 kilometers through and around Avdiivka. Analysts note that under Russia's current hypothetical progression, it would take years for Russian forces to reach the city of Donetsk - just 60 kilometers away.

"Russian forces would need to conduct widespread and competent cross-country maneuvers," in order to capture additional Ukrainian territory in the immediate future, the ISW notes. "Russian forces have not displayed the capability to conduct such maneuvers, either near Avdiivka or in any other sector of the front."

For month, the battle for Avdiivka was marked by heavy losses and intense fighting to control the destroyed city. Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Oleksandr Syrskyi announced his decision to withdraw Ukrainian units from Avdiivka on Feb. 17, citing the need to "avoid encirclement and preserve the lives and health of servicemen."

Considered Russia's first major victory in 2024, the Avdiivka campaign has been extremely costly to Russia in terms of manpower and equipment. Ukrainian General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi said that since Jan. 1, Moscow had lost over 20,000 troops, 199 tanks, and 481 armored fighting vehicles.

Ukraine's National Resistance Center reported that due to high casualties, Russia is using abandoned schools as morgues for its soldiers.

Brutal Battle for Avdiivka brings Russia’s first major victory in 2024
The capture of Avdiivka is Russia’s first major achievement in nine months, but it doesn’t leave any side looking good. For Russia, it was a Pyrrhic victory that consumed an army’s worth of equipment and killed or mangled estimated tens of thousands of Russian men to capture


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