Fortress on the Steppe: Avdiivka
A city founded in 1778 by the Russian Empire. Now it has become a shadow of its former self with the city losing 90% of its pre-2022 population. But its value has always remained the same, an anchor that holds the center of the Donetsk oblast together.
The city first saw combat when the two separatists regions spilt off from Ukraine in 2014 and the fighting in and around the city has been a deadlock with neither side gaining an advantage over the other, not until the Russians invaded in 2022. But even then the Russians saw minimal success in the region up until the last couple of weeks. To understand why Avdiivka is critical to Russia, we must first examine where it sits.
Importance of Avdiivka
To first start off about the height of the city. Avdiivka sits about 700-750 feet above sea level, on top of a hill essentially, while the city of Donetsk to the south, sits at 200 feet lower. So already you can see where I am going with this, Avdiivka is like a fort sitting on top of a hill, overlooking the entire city of Donetsk.
So it should not surprise you when the majority of the artillery shelling you see in Donetsk, people getting killed by constant artillery strikes in the middle of Donetsk, sometimes not even striking military targets but hospitals, roads, cars, etc. The major of this shelling is coming from Avdiivka itself.
Just from this information alone you can understand why the Russians need to gain control over Avdiivka, to stop the constant shelling that goes on in Donetsk from Ukrainian artillery situated in Avdiivka. Doing this will bring the nonstop indiscriminate shelling to a halt, something that has been going on for almost 9 years now.
To delve even further, Avdiivka is a fortress. And what I mean about this is specifically, Avdiivka not only sits on higher elevation, but all the buildings (or most) in the city are typical commie block buildings that are 100-150 feet high. So it is a very fortified place which explains why the separatist regions were not able to push the Ukrainians out.
The ongoing battle
But things have picked up pace significantly for the past month. Russian aviation and planes have bombarded Avdiivka for weeks on end with no stop. It is important to note that the Russian air force has been very quiet in the war, so the fact that we got image and videos of Russian heli’s and planes firing on and dropping bombs in Avdiivka shows that the anti air defense in this region is either not present or very minimal.
So knowing all of this, what do the Russians do? The most obvious one of course which is to encircle the entire city of Avdiivka and starve the Ukrainians of food and ammunition. Which is exactly what the Russians have been doing for the past week.
They have recently captured the towns of Krasnohorivka and Strepove. As well as widen the flanks of the pincher to prevent Ukrainian counter attacks from being successful. I have no doubt that the Russian air force played a significant part in the battle and why the Russians are able to push now, they have flattened a good chunk of the high rises to the north and west of the city.
I know we have mostly talked about the Battle of Bakhmut since it is the biggest and has the most firepower involved of the entire war. But the Russians taking Avdiivka is just as important if not more, since like I mentioned previously, Avdiivka is the anchor for the entire center part of the Donetsk oblast. Taking this will open the gateway to secure the center part of the Donetsk oblast and allow the Russians to swing North, rush to the Dnipier river, or go South to liberate the rest of Zaporozhe.
The importance of this battle cannot be overstated. If the Russians manage to capture both Bakhmut and Avdiivka before the end of April. They will have put themselves in a very favorable position to push and take the rest of the Donbas area, which has always been the number 1 objective for Russia in this war.