Russians admit rare defeat as battle for key Ukraine city has fizzled out

As the fight for the frontline city of Avdiivka was in its early stages last week, Russia’s propaganda described it as a “decisive battle”.

But Ukraine’s ability to face the assault and the huge losses reported by Moscow’s troops appear to have deflated even Russian pro-war bloggers, with some admitting the offensive has “fizzled and stopped”, according to Republic magazine.

The commentators went as far as pinning down, among the reasons for the so far negative outcome of the Russian offensive, “concrete in the heads of commanders” who do not learn from their mistakes, the magazine also said.

Reports the battle had significantly slowed down in pace since it began on October 10 can be found also in Ukraine.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said its soldiers fought off 10 Russian attacks in Avdiivka on Tuesday and five on Wednesday – a number considerably smaller than that recorded at the height of the battle, when as many as 64 clashes within a 24-hour period were recorded.

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Vitaliy Barabash, the head of the city’s military administration, said this lull indicates that the Russian army has “run out of breath” and “the situation has stabilised”.

Appearing on Ukrainian television, he then called for caution as he said: “But it’s not over yet. Shelling and small arms fire continue around the clock, so the situation remains very hot.

“I can say for sure that this is the largest offensive that has ever been launched against Avdiivka since the war began in 2014.”

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In the wake of the new push for Avdiivka, Russia moved a large armoured column of three battalions as well as dozens of armoured vehicles and jets into the northern flank of the Avdiivka front.

Mr Barabash, the head of the city’s military administration, said last week: “The enemy does not stop storming, they come from all directions.”

Speaking about the attacks, US think tank the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) noted how “Russian forces simultaneously attacking the northwest, west and south of Avdiivka using armoured assault groups, rotary wing aircraft and concentrated artillery”.

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On Tuesday, the British Ministry of Defence described this attack as “likely […] the most significant offensive operation undertaken by Russia since at least January 2023”.

Nevertheless, Ukrainian troops held their ground, repelling dozens of attacks daily coming from multiple sides for more than a week.

Controlling Avdiivka is of crucial importance, as it serves as a getaway to Donetsk – the primary communication hub within the occupied territories.

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