As widely expected, once major foreign aid packages in the US and the EU hit snags, Ukrainian forces, who are totally dependent on this lifeline, began losing their already depleted combat capabilities.
Then, the inevitable started happening: slowly but surely Russian forces are advancing in several parts of the front.
The most dramatic advances took place in the southern outskirts of ‘the key to Donetsk’, Avdiivka.
“Russian forces have advanced near the heavily-contested eastern town of Avdiivka, currently held by Ukraine, according to reports.
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) think-tank said it had confirmed Russian advances to the south and south-west of the settlement.”
Russian Telegram channel Slavyangrad reported:
“Ukrainian nationalists in Avdiivka complain that Russian special forces are already ‘running around’ the city.
‘Special forces groups have entered and are walking around [Avdiivka]… You understand that this is not good’, said militant Datsik from the 3rd brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
[…] The day before it became known that Russian fighters had broken through two kilometers in Avdiivka from the northwestern and southern directions.”
Having turned to strategic defense, Ukraine is now busy digging 600 miles of monumental trench structures, with tank traps, dragon-teeth, and underground command post bunkers.
The main fortified line runs 10 miles west of Avdiivka, using a number of natural barriers like lakes and rivers.
While stronger fortifications will slow down the movement of Russian troops it has been noted that they will also reduce Kiev’s ambitions to recapture lost territory.
Meanwhile, Russian troops are reportedly entrenched in the outlying houses of Avdiivka, with as much as a tenth of Avdiivka is already under their control.
Watch: FAB guided bombs pound Ukrainian defensive formations on southern Avdiivka.
Military Chronicle reported:
“Despite the tactical nature of this success, it should be noted that the Russian Armed Forces broke through the main defensive line of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in this area and, at a minimum, neutralized the main fortified area that was hindering the advance of the Russian Armed Forces in the south and southwest of Avdiivka.
We emphasize that Ukrainian troops in this area created one of the most fortified lines in modern history and the front line has changed slightly since 2014. Now that the Ukrainian Armed Forces were forced to retreat, they will have to gain a foothold in new positions. But any new positions will be prepared and equipped worse than the old line of defense.”
Fatigue and lack of personnel are reportedly plaguing the Armed Forces of Ukraine in this area.
“In addition, the attack on Avdiivka initially came from several directions. Now strengthening the Ukrainian Armed Forces units in one sector is possible only by withdrawing troops from other sectors. It is possible that in this way it will be possible for the Russian Armed Forces to advance in other areas, for example from the Donetsk filtration station, which was recently struck by army aviation of the Russian Aerospace Forces, along the ravine to the north-west of Vinogradniki, as well as towards 9th quarter from the southern sector of the front.”
Now, if the Ukrainian command decides to strengthen the troops in the area, it will mean removal of formations from other sectors of the front.
“In addition, reinforcements will have to be moved in difficult conditions, under fire from the Russian Armed Forces, and in difficult climatic and weather conditions.”
But If the Armed Forces of Ukraine decide to gain a foothold in the urban areas, then urban combat will ensue.
That would mean that the length of the front line in this area will be reduced, allowing Russians to concentrate troops.