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ISW: Russia may seize more territory near Avdiivka, but rough terrain will slow their advance

by Abbey Fenbert and The Kyiv Independent news desk February 28, 2024 6:45 AM 2 min read
Ukrainian soldiers of Brigade 71 fire artillery in the direction of Avdiivka, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on February 18, 2024. (Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu via Getty Images) 
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Russian forces may be able to make more gains near Avdiivka in the near future, but rough ground conditions will likely slow their advances in the area, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said in their Feb. 27 report.

Ukrainian troops withdrew from two settlements, Stepove and Severne, north of occupied Avdiivka on Feb. 27. The previous day, Feb. 26, Ukraine pulled out of Lastochkyne, a village about three kilometers west of the city's northwestern outskirts.

ISW analysts said this region was particularly vulnerable to advancing Russian troops, but that areas to farther west would pose certain challenges to their offensive.

"Russian forces may be able to seize settlements immediately west and northwest of Avdiivka in the coming weeks, but terrain and water features further west of Avdiivka, particularly the body of water that runs between Berdychi-Semenivka-Orlivka, will likely slow the already relatively slow rate of Russian advances in the area," the ISW said.

The ISW said that Russia's continued advancement is meant to deny Ukrainian soldiers the opportunity to rest and recover, preventing them from building up stronger defensive lines near Avdiivka. Russia is now able to target areas that Ukrainian troops have been defending for shorter periods of time.

"Russian forces are likely sustaining a high operational tempo to try to exploit this tactical opportunity," the ISW said.

Dmytro Lykhovii, a spokesperson for Ukraine's Tavria Group, reported after the withdrawal from Stepove and Severne that Russia had increased the number of its assault units. Some of them can reach up to 250 soldiers, which is the number of a company, he said.

The ISW pointed out that geographical conditions may force Russia to slow down, granting  Ukraine a respite.

"This difficult terrain will likely constrain further Russian tactical gains and allow Ukrainian forces to establish prepared defensive positions that will likely prompt the eventual culmination of the current Russian offensive effort in the area," analysts said.

Ukraine withdrew from the small industrial city of Avdiivka in Donetsk Oblast on Feb. 17 amid ammunition shortages after months of repelling Russia’s renewed offensive.

After the occupation of Avdiivka, Russia intensified its offensive efforts in various parts of Ukraine’s front line, likely in order to stretch Ukrainian forces, the U.K. Defense Ministry reported in its Feb. 21 intelligence update.

Ukraine war latest: Ukraine withdraws from 2 more villages near Avdiivka, downs 2 Russian warplanes in single day
Key developments on Feb. 27: * Military: Ukraine withdraws from Stepove and Severne villages near Avdiivka * Air Force: Ukraine downs 2 Russian Su-34 planes in single day * Ukraine reports heavy battles in Bakhmut direction as Russia pulls in reserves * NATO members say they are not considering…

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