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Russia threw dozens of tanks and infantry fighting vehicles into the battle: Ukrainian Armed Forces repel large-scale attack near Avdiivka, ISW names enemy's target

Russian military equipment destroyed. Source: Facebook of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine

On March 30, the Ukrainian Defense Forces repelled a large-scale mechanized attack by the occupiers, numbering a battalion, near Avdiivka, Donetsk region. Russian forces, including units of the 6th Regiment of the 90th Tank Division of the Central Military District, sent 36 tanks and 12 armored personnel carriers to assault the village of Tonenke but were met with a powerful rebuff by the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

This is the first such large-scale attack by the Russian Armed Forces since they launched the operation to capture Avdiivka in late October 2023. This was pointed out by analysts at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), who explained what the enemy's goal might be.

For example, geolocated images published on March 31 by the unofficial Telegram channel of the 25th Separate Airborne Sicheslav Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine show a large number of destroyed and damaged Russian armored vehicles and tanks along the road northwest of Tonenke (west of Avdiivka).

Russia threw dozens of tanks and infantry fighting vehicles into the battle: Ukrainian Armed Forces repel large-scale attack near Avdiivka, ISW names enemy's target

A Ukrainian serviceman said that the Defense Forces destroyed 12 Russian tanks and eight infantry fighting vehicles during the battle. He emphasized that the occupiers' frontal attack failed to break through the Ukrainian defense line.

According to analysts, this is the first report that any units of the 90th Tank Division of the Russian Armed Forces took part in the attacks after the capture of Avdiivka. ISW has previously assessed that elements of this division, along with other Russian units and formations, likely represent a significant unused operational reserve, and that the Russian army command may commit to continuing and intensifying efforts to advance west of Avdiivka.

Russia threw dozens of tanks and infantry fighting vehicles into the battle: Ukrainian Armed Forces repel large-scale attack near Avdiivka, ISW names enemy's target

"However, the units of the 6th Tank Regiment failed in the attack on March 30 near Tonenke. And this suggests that elements of Russia's unused operational reserve near Avdiivka may be too degraded or otherwise unable to lead a further Russian offensive to the west soon," the Institute for War Studies believes.

At the same time, they emphasized that the scale of the Russian mechanized offensive on March 30 was significant. Russian troops have not conducted such a large-scale mechanized attack since the start of a localized offensive to capture Avdiivka on October 19-20, 2023, when the Armed Forces destroyed almost 50 Russian tanks and more than 100 armored vehicles.

Russia threw dozens of tanks and infantry fighting vehicles into the battle: Ukrainian Armed Forces repel large-scale attack near Avdiivka, ISW names enemy's target

Experts say that Ukraine's ability to defend itself against the enemy attack on March 30, especially in the area of Avdiivka, where they were forced to retreat to new defensive positions after losing the city, is a positive indicator of the country's ability to defend itself against future large-scale Russian attacks.

"Ukrainian officials are justified in continuing to warn about Ukraine's ability to defend itself against an expected Russian offensive this summer in the face of ammunition shortages, manpower constraints, and delayed Western aid," ISW emphasized.

It is possible that the Ukrainian Defense Forces had to expend a significant amount of equipment to defend against the Russian attack near Tonenke. This also points to Russia's ability to conduct attacks that force Ukraine to spend an excessive amount of its already limited material and human resources on defense.

Russia threw dozens of tanks and infantry fighting vehicles into the battle: Ukrainian Armed Forces repel large-scale attack near Avdiivka, ISW names enemy's target

"However, the ability of the Ukrainian Armed Forces to skillfully defend themselves against a large-scale Russian attack in a particularly critical section of the front, despite the above problems, suggests that Ukrainian forces can achieve significant results on the battlefield if they are properly equipped," military experts are convinced.

In their opinion, the willingness of the Russian command to send a battalion of tanks to attack near Avdiivka indicates that this attack was a priority. It has been suggested that the Russian Armed Forces may focus their projected spring/summer 2024 offensive in the west of the Donetsk region in the hope of consolidating steady but small gains in that area. Ukrainian officials have recently warned that Russian forces are already amassing personnel along the Kharkiv-Luhansk axis, near Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and in the west of Zaporizhzhia region.

"However, we continue to believe that the occupiers are likely to be able to launch only a coordinated large-scale offensive in only one operational area due to the limited nature of their forces and Russia's planning," ISW concluded.

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