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ISW: Russia tones down rhetoric about Avdiivka offensive

by Abbey Fenbert October 16, 2023 5:16 AM 2 min read
Russian dictator Vladimir Putin on Oct. 13, 2023. (Contributor/Getty Images)
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Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and other Russian military commentators have muted their optimism about operations near Avdiivka, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) wrote in its Oct. 15 report.

Facing heavy losses and stalled momentum in their attempt to encircle Avdiivka, Russian forces made no territorial gains on Oct. 15, while the Russian information space changed its tone regarding the offensive.

Putin characerized the operation as an "active defense" in an interview that aired on Russian state television.

While he also claimed in the interview that Ukraine's counteroffensive had failed, his wording points to a shift in Russian rhetoric about the Avdiivka assault. Instead of an "offensive," the operation has become an "active defense."

The ISW pointed out the contrast between Putin's framing and that of Russia's Ambassador to the U.N. Vasily Nebenzya, who said Russia was conducting "active combat operations" near Avdiivka on Oct. 13.

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The ISW also reported that other Russian commentators had tempered their "initial optimism about the prospects of Russian offensive operations around Avdiivka" following military setbacks.

On Oct. 14, U.S. officials reported that the Russian onslaught in Donetsk Oblast had not made much progress.

The ISW said that while fighting remains ongoing near Avdiivka, Russian forces have made no additional gains and the pace of operations is "likely decreasing."  

"Russian forces are unlikely to make significant breakthroughs or cut off Ukrainian forces in the settlement in the near term, and potential advances at scale would likely require a significant and protracted commitment of personnel and materiel," the ISW wrote.

Avdiivka has been on the front lines of Russia's war against Ukraine since 2014. Much of the city was destroyed following the full-scale invasion of February 2022.

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