The deteriorating situation in Avdiivka has become Colonel General Oleksandr Syrsky’s inaugural challenge since being appointed Ukraine’s commander-in-chief (CIC) on 8FEB24.

Latest battlefield intelligence suggests that Russian forces have severed the main supply route (MSR) for the Ukrainian defenders in Avdiivka on 13FEB. This move divides the urban area into two pockets: the Coke and Chemical Plant area to the north and the rest of Avdiivka to the southeast.

Situation in Avdiivka as of 13FEB24 18:06 (screenshot of DeepState Map)


This leaves the Ukrainian units in Avdiivka reliant on secondary supply routes (SSR), which consist of dirt roads through the west fields via Sieverne and Lastochkyne. 

The SSRs are extremely vulnerable as they run through open fields, offer only slim tree lines for cover, and are under complete Russian fire control. 


Ukraine’s position in Avdiivka will most likely degrade further from this point. This raises fears that Ukraine may again overstay its presence in a battle where the tide is changing, akin to the closing months of the battle for Bakhmut. 

Complicating matters are the critically low levels of ammunition supply and the challenges associated with evacuating the wounded. 

In a worst-case scenario, a total loss of the MSR and SSRs could result in the encirclement of Ukrainian defenders, exposing them to the imminent threat of destruction or capture.


Since the start of Russia’s Avdiivka offensive in early OCT23, Ukraine’s defense has been formidable. 

Ukraine inflicted unparalleled losses on Russian forces, with some estimates indicating ratios of 1:7 and 1:10 in Ukraine’s favor. An estimated 30,000 Russian soldiers died fighting in Avdiivka. 

The visually confirmed equipment losses are even more staggering: 50 Ukrainian vs. 655 Russian. This amounts to a 1:13 loss rate in Ukraine’s favor. 

Russian and Ukrainian visually confirmed losses in Avdiivk (@TopLeadEU based on @naalsio26 data)

For three months, Avdiivka was another Vuhledarian debacle a la Gerasimov, wasting away Russian manpower for incremental gains measured in meters. This created a strategic window for Ukraine to impose losses on Russia exceeding Moscow’s capacity for replacement– a key tenet of attrition warfare

However, the creeping issue of shell shortages, a consequence of the lack of foreign military aid, has forced Ukraine to prioritize targets and ration ammunition. 

Simultaneously, Russian UMPK glide bombs started pounding Avdiivka on a regular basis, exploiting the limited and dwindling Ukrainian battlefield air defense ammunition. Russia dropped around 600 guided munitions against Avdivka in four weeks between mid-JAN to earl-FEB. 

Shell-starved, outgunned, under constant air attack, and without the MSR, Ukraine’s defense in Avdiivka is becoming increasingly unsustainable. 


General Syrsky must decide whether to hold Avdiivka or withdraw.

In a recent interview, Gen. Syrsky made statements that seemingly seek to quell concerns emerging from his negative reputation. Gen. Syrsky said: “We cannot afford to treat our soldiers like Russian commanders, who use tactics of human waves attacks. I’d rather leave a position, but I won’t allow the loss of personnel. For them, the lives of soldiers have no value. And we see this, their losses exceed ours by 7-8 times according to the latest data.”

It may very well be that Gen. Syrsky does not believe Ukraine’s defense in Avdiivka has reached a breaking point. However, if that point is reached, he indicated a willingness to initiate a retrograde.

Ivan Sekach, the head of public relations of the 110th Mechanized Brigade, one of the Ukrainian units holding Avdiivka, said that Russian soldiers are under orders to capture Avdiivka before the upcoming Russian presidential elections on 15-17MAR. 

This may be more of a PR success rather than a contributing factor to Putin’s victory, considering that the outcome of the presidential race is predetermined. 

However, the Russian presidential elections could double as a holding objective for the Ukrainian defenders in Avdiivka if Kyiv wants to rob Putin of a pre-election victory.


On 10FEB, operational command Tavria decided to rush the 3rd Assault Brigade from its brief reserve status in Kramatorsk into Avdiivka.

The battle-hardened 3rd Assault Brigade has previously spearheaded the operation to semi-encircle the Russians in Bakhmut. 

This move likely aimed to keep the MSR open and potentially roll back the Russian advances. With the MSR now closed, the reinforced Ukrainian defenders are likely fighting to reopen it. 

The 3rd Assault Brigade may also provide relief in the event of a fighting withdrawal if operational command Tavria and Gen. Syrsky give the order to retrograde. 

It remains to be seen if Avdiivka will morph into a fight until the last rubble, driven by sunk cost fallacy and a political desire not to surrender even an inch of territory, or if Ukraine will exit at the right time. 

An early version of this report was published on Linkedin on 12FEB24.