Ukraine’s weak defense system gives Russia an advantage in Avdiivka

Ukraine's weak defense system gives Russia an advantage in Avdiivka 0
Ukraine's weak defense system gives Russia an advantage in Avdiivka 0

(Dan Tri) – Experts say that it was the weak defense capacity of Ukrainian forces that helped Russian forces quickly enter Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine and gain control.

Ukraine’s rudimentary trenches outside Avdiivka, in the area that Russia claims to control (Photo: NYT).

Russian forces continue to make small, rapid gains outside the city of Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine, partly because Ukraine’s ammunition supplies have dwindled and Western aid has declined.

However, according to experts, there is another reason why the Russian army quickly entered this area: Ukraine’s weak defense capacity.

Planet Labs, a commercial satellite company, provided images showing sparse, rudimentary trenches in the area west of Avdiivka that Ukraine is trying to defend.

These trenches lack many additional fortifications that could help Kiev hold back Russian tanks and help protect main roads and important terrain.

Avdiivka has become the fiercest front line in the past nine months and emerged as one of the bloodiest battles in the war in Ukraine.

When Russian troops gained control of the city on February 17, their first major victory since May 2023, the Ukrainian army claimed to have secured defense lines outside the city.

US officials expressed concern that Ukraine did not strengthen its defenses early enough and did not do so well, so the country may now face major consequences when Russian units advance slowly but steadily to take control of the area.

British military intelligence said on February 29 that Russian forces had advanced about 6.5 km from the center of Avdiivka in the past 2 weeks.

This area has been under attack since 2014 and Ukraine has temporarily regained  control of the area since Russia launched a special military operation in February 2022.

Russian defense forces are stronger

Ukraine’s lack of strong defenses in the region is especially apparent when compared with Russia’s formidable defenses, which prevented Kiev’s troops from advancing here last summer in a stunning¬†counteroffensive

Russian fortifications outside the southern village of Verbove, which Ukraine unsuccessfully tried to recapture this fall, show a completely different picture.

Unlike the fortified villages that Russian forces are trying to gain control of outside Avdiivka, Verbove has a concentric ring of fortifications.

It begins with a trench wide enough to trap approaching tanks and armored vehicles, followed by a network of cement obstacles known as dragon teeth – also used to stop vehicles – and

Satellite images from February show Russia’s layered defense system west of Verbove, with thousands of shell craters visible from surrounding areas.

A very expensive option

There are many reasons that can explain Ukraine’s lack of defense capabilities.

U.S. officials and military experts said Ukraine may have focused too much on counter-offensive operations last year and did not devote the necessary resources to building more trenches and tank traps.

Ukraine's weak defense system gives Russia an advantage in Avdiivka

Satellite images from Planet Labs show the territory controlled by Russia, as of February 29, 2024 (Photo: NYT).

`Who cares and who considers it an option – because it is a very expensive option – to build defense lines? So no one cares,` said Serhiy Hrabskyi, a former Ukrainian army colonel.

US officials also said that there may be psychological factors.

While Moscow began building defenses in the south more than half a year before Kiev’s counteroffensive, Ukraine appears to have only begun plans to build new fortifications three months ago, when government officials

Officials said the responsibility for building the first line of defense will fall on military units stationed in the area, while subsequent lines of defense will be built by civil authorities with the help of

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said that about 30 billion Ukrainian hryvnia, equivalent to about 800 million USD, had been allocated for fortification this year.

But Black Bird Group analyst Pasi Paroinen, who specializes in analyzing satellite images and social media content from the battlefield, said there had been `no significant changes` since Zelensky’s visit.

Ukrainian authorities say they lack human resources who can carry out construction work.

`We lack technical units. And even our units lack equipment,` Mr. Hrabskyi said.

Both Mr. Hrabskyi and Paroinen admitted that Russia has more equipment, materials and experienced personnel when building defense lines.

Delays in the construction of fortifications mean that the Ukrainian army may now have to reinforce its defenses while under heavy Russian attack, making the task even more difficult.

Mr. Hrabskyi said Russia is currently preventing the Ukrainian army from strengthening its defenses by relentlessly bombarding them, including using powerful glide bombs carrying hundreds of tons of explosives that can penetrate even

`The quality of these defense lines cannot be good enough to withstand the giant bulldozer tactics of Russian forces,` Mr. Hrabskyi admitted.

Ukraine's weak defense system gives Russia an advantage in Avdiivka

Avdiivka is a strategic city in Donetsk province, Eastern Ukraine (Map: Guardian).

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