Russian forces prepare the third wave of Avdiivka offensive in Donetsk Oblast, the Ukrainian army's Tavria group spokesperson Oleksandr Shtupun told national television on Nov. 18.
Russian forces intensified ground attacks against Avdiivka and surrounding settlements in early October, in an attempt to encircle the town. The campaign has been supported by heavy shelling and air strikes, which continue to inflict casualties among civilian residents.
“We are expecting the third wave of offensive - an attempt to encircle Adviivka,” Shtupun said.
Ukrainian forces hold the defense lines in the Avdiiivka axis while conducting an offensive in Melitopol direction, Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, the commander of the Tavria Group, reported on Nov. 18.
The attacks on Avdiivka, the gateway to occupied Donetsk, have been very costly for Moscow.
According to the Ukrainian military, Russian forces lost around 10,000 soldiers, more than 100 tanks, over 250 other armored vehicles, and seven Su-25 aircraft in the month of fighting near the front-line town.
Russia has been trying to capture the small town just north of occupied Donetsk since 2014.
Reports of another Russian offensive on Avdiivka occur against the backdrop of reports of the potential dismissal of three Ukrainian commanders and further reshuffle in Ukraine's military leadership.
The Defense Ministry is considering potential dismissal of three commanders within Ukraine’s Armed Forces, Ukrainian media outlet Ukrainska Pravda reported on Nov. 13, citing unnamed sources in the country’s military and political leadership.
According to the sources, Defense Minister Rustem Umerov is preparing requests to dismiss Medical Forces Commander Tetiana Ostashchenko, Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, the commander of the Tavria Group, and Joint Forces Commander Serhii Naiev.
The reasons for the possible dismissal of Tarnavskyi, who commands troops on the southern front line, and Naiev are unknown, Ukrainska Pravda wrote.
Hours after Ukrainska Pravda published the report, the Defense Ministry issued a “response to all media inquiries” saying that “information published by a number of outlets is not true.” The ministry didn’t specify to which reports it was reacting to.
“The Defense Ministry does not comment on rumors or unverified information. Everyone works as usual, and decisions are discussed in coordination with the General Staff.