Tuesday, 19 July 2022 — The Van Says…
As Russian and Donbass forces slowly encircle the town of Avdeevka, another inevitable defeat awaits the Ukrainians soldiers who still remain there.
In spite of the successes that both Russian and Donbass forces have enjoyed further north, the city of Donetsk is still being pounded from the nearby town of Avdeevka, this allowing Ukrainian forces to attack civilian areas with artillery and missiles, little apparently being done to solve an increasingly pressing issue. This article will look at the situation and explain why this threat still exists. For those who wish to follow this story day by day, the Rybar channel whilst principally in Russian does publish daily updates in English, this post being relevant to the situation in the area under examination.
Avdeevka as a Town
A town of approximately thirty thousand, it lies in the industrial heartland of the Donbass, a mere two miles from the most northerly arras of Donetsk itself. Between the two lies the Spartak settlement, this having seen some of the heaviest fighting during the war of 2014-15 due to the proximity of the airport to the west. Prior to the conflict, it was home to a large coke works as well as metal and mineral plants, these being staple industries across the region as a whole. After the Donbass War slowly gave way to the detenté of the Frozen War in 2015, things have changed however, an industrial town being turned into a Ukrainian fortress.
Avdeevka as a Fortress
During the last seven years, the town has played host to pretty much every extremist unit the Ukrainian military has to offer as well as having been fortified to a huge degree. As the last bastion of the Ukraine before coming to the border of the DNR, it has also served as an intelligence center, troops and personnel from a number of western nations having been stationed there in order to peek over the border into the Donbass. Those seven years have allowed the greatest military brains from both the Ukraine and abroad to plan and construct an elaborate defense structure in and around the town, slowly turning a city into a citadel. Had Ukrainian forces been able to conduct their planned attacks and invasion of the Donbass and Crimea this year, Avdeevka would have been one of the central commands as Kiev attempted to regain lost lands.
The Russian Standpoint
The first matter to consider when looking at Russia’s Special Military Operation in the Ukraine is that many in the region are very favorably disposed towards Russia and the Russians at the same time as they feel completely differently about their own country and government. This means that Moscow will have minute details concerning the defenses, manpower and tactics that would be employed in an operation, as well as having experienced how Kiev treats the civilian population when pushed into a corner. The second consideration is closely bound to the first, that being the preservation of life and the prevention of undue destruction. Thousands of defenseless citizens in the custody of right-wing psychos is a recipe for disaster and if Russian forces do not want to walk into a bloodbath of a town, they have to act with extreme caution.
The Ukrainian Standpoint
This town has become an emblematic symbol of the post-Maidan regime in Kiev, both politicians and their motley crew of political and extremist followers considering Avdeevka to be something akin to Azovstal, a bastion of Banderite ideology blighting the landscape of the Donbass. From the standpoint of the overall conflict, the town is not a last stand for Kiev, but its loss will come as the latest in a number of bitter blows, no amount of western assistance cushioning the impact its loss would have, both far and wide. There is increasing talk stateside of cutting aid to the country due to the hopeless situation further north and when the Russians take Avdeevka, the Yanks may just walk away from supporting the Ukrainian War.
The Lie of the Land
Far from being just open plains, the topography of Avdeevka favors defense rather than attack, and even with precision missiles and satellite guidance, an assault on the town is always going to be difficult. Whilst there are open plains in the area, from an offensive point of view, the fact that the town is on raised ground and has large bodies of water nearby means that great care must be exercised when approaching the town. Civilian casualties as mentioned are a huge concern for Russian units in the area, yet those same units need to be deployed in a manner that ensures minimum casualties for maximum gains, Moscow not wishing to suffer undue losses as it moves forward.
We must also recall how Ukrainian military units behaved in Mariupol and near the Azovstal plant to realize that as Russia gains more squares in the military chessgame, Kiev’s men will use civilians as pawns wherever they can. It could well be that as Russian units encroach on the area, many members of the general public will again be locked in basements with no food and water, a human shield that is beginning to typify the morals of Kiev’s forces.
Part of the Plan
The subject of this article is Avdeevka and its importance to both the Russians and Ukrainians, yet it is only a small if well defended part of the area that allied forces will have to conquer in order to assure safety for the city of Donetsk and environs. Doubtlessly the operation to take the town will be a ‘cauldron’ operation, yet once it is completed, further pushes will need to be made so that artillery and missile systems cannot be used by the Ukrainians. Whether western systems will continue to be used (or just sold to the Russians) may imply that this new frontline will need be a great distance from Donetsk, but for the moment at least, the priority is on breaching the defenses of a fortress right on its doorstep.
The PlanMany have criticized the fact that allied forces have not been more assertive in quelling the fire from the area, yet with Russian military commanders having the insight and intelligence reports that they do, they are conducting their operations in this manner with very good reason. As mentioned, the plan against Avdeevka is evolving as have many in the recent past, with roads accessing the town first coming under Russian control before all surrounding territories are taken, effectively putting the Ukrainian units present under siege. Missile and mortar attacks have been ongoing for days, yet as we have seen in towns such as Popasna, if defending units are well entrenched, it can take days or even weeks to control the area as a whole. Once the town is encircled and long-range weapons systems have been largely neutralized, maneuvers similar to those in Mariupol will start, the town coming under Russian control street by street.
Just as with other settlements in the Ukraine, a previously anonymous town has come to mean so much not only for its region, but for the country as a whole. The town of Avdeevka means a lot to all concerned, yet whilst its conquest by the Russians helps Donetsk to survive, its loss by the Ukraine would be felt much further afield than just in the immediate area. For all the importance it holds for all concerned, it is however merely a stone in the road facing Russian forces as they liberate the Donbass, more battles ahead once this one is won.
Despite the criticism that Russian military leaders have received for not moving faster, a few days or weeks of preparation may all the difference for both Russians and civilians alike, the intelligence from officers on the ground making the conquest of Avdeevka immeasurably more painless for the more vulnerable who will be affected.
Just as with Mariupol and Azovstal, the coming battle for Avdeevka will have ramifications both near and far. We can only hope that this will be the final blow that brings Kiev to its senses, a war started from the West being ended by a crucial victory won in the East…