Russia is the more active side in the positional warfare taking place in Ukraine today and could conquer smaller settlements, while this does not amount to operational level success, Col. Tarmo Kundla said.
"The Russian Federation's forces have continued offensive operations all along the front and have found some success near Avdiivka and the villages north and south of the town. It is possible Avdiivka will fall, while it also depends on what Ukraine decides – whether to try and hold it or fall back. The city has not been surrounded yet," Col. Kundla said at a weekly briefing at the Ministry of Defense.
"Even if Russian troops manage to take the city, it will be a tactical victory with solid PR potential, while it will not provide them with major operational level success. It remains unlikely the Russian Federation will be able to seize larger swathes of territory in the Donetsk Oblast in the near future," the colonel said.
Should the Ukrainians pull out of Avdiivka to spare their troops, it will be no disaster as new defensive positions west of the city have already been prepared.
Kundla remarked that Russian forces could also take the settlement of Marinka south of Avdiivka in the coming weeks.
The colonel pointed to Ukrainian information according to which around 25,000 Russian troops have died in Donetsk over the last two months, 80 percent of them in battles around Avdiivka.
Heavy losses have forced the Russians to bring in units that used to be stationed abroad. "It is noteworthy and a clear attempt at making up for losses," Kundla remarked.
The colonel also said that Russia has been attempting to reclaim territory lost around Orikhiv in the south but without success. Ukrainian units are also holding on to their positions on the east bank of the Dnipro River.
"In summary, the war of attrition continues. Russia has the initiative and its units are finding tactical success in some areas of the front line, while it comes at a considerable cost. But it does not give them operational success," Kundla said.
Editor: Mait Ots, Marcus Turovski