Yuriy Butusov: Avdiivka is one of the defining battles of this war

-A special broadcast on NV radio continues. My name is Oleksiy Tarasov... We are going to talk about the situation in the Avdiivka sector. Let me remind you that the enemy, the Russian occupiers, have been activating there, east of our country since about October 10. They launched a huge offensive. One of the goals of this offensive is to capture Avdiivka, a Ukrainian city in Donbas that is a suburb of Donetsk. Our defenders have been holding it since 2014, and of course what they see there now is very important to know, it is very important to talk about. Our colleague Yuriy Butusov, the editor-in-chief of Censor.NET, was there, he was in Avdiivka, in the Avdiivka direction, and we will talk about it with him. Mr. Butusov, I welcome you on the air. Glory to Ukraine!

- Glory to the Heroes!

- Of course, we have quoted you in our programs. You called this battle for Avdiivka one of the defining battles of this war. Could you explain, including to our audience, the context of why the battle for Avdiivka is so important?

- Avdiivka is a part of the Donetsk agglomeration, in fact, it is the gateway to Donetsk. Therefore, the enemy cannot hold Donetsk and use it fully as a logistics and communication hub while the Ukrainian army is on the threshold. And of course, for the Russians, the fact that we are in Donetsk is a big challenge, and for them, from a tactical point of view, from a strategic point of view, it is a very big problem. So they will certainly try to solve it at any cost. And they will continue their assaults and offensive.

- Well, you could see with your own eyes what is happening. We talked to the military who are in the Avdiivka area, from the Legion of Freedom, from the volunteer unit of the Right Sector. What did you see?

- I see really heavy fighting going on in that direction. Russia has sent very large forces, concentrated a large number of troops, aircraft, artillery. And it is trying to get through with large infantry forces north and south of Avdiivka through narrow corridors, in fact, through the lowlands. They are trying to break through and gain a foothold on the heights near Avdiivka without taking any losses. Their task is to cut the supply route to Avdiivka and they are trying to accomplish this task at any cost. We can see how effectively the Ukrainian soldiers are resisting. They are beating the enemy and the losses of Russians here near Avdiivka are huge.

-Well, how do you understand this "at any cost"? No matter how much we talk about how Russians are brainwashed, how they watch TV, how they believe Putin and this crazy propaganda. But it's still an individual life, and if, indeed, since October 10 we have confirmation from the General Staff that these figures of their losses are huge, what motivates them?

- Well, in fact, the enemy has its own logic of use, its own tactics. The tactics of using his troops have their own logic. Yes, they spend large forces of troops, large forces of infantry, but all this on a fairly narrow front. And they realize that they need to achieve a fairly short goal. So, in order to surround Avdiivka, they actually have to go about 7 km, 7-8 km at most. And they realize that they have to go through these 7-8 km at any cost. So they rush forward expecting that these losses, even if they suffer, will still allow them to fulfill their goal. And if we talk to ordinary infantrymen and talk to prisoners here, there is no such opponent of the use of troops for a long time. These are people who are brought here specifically to attack. they fight here for a short time, a week at most. some of them go into attack and die or surrender right on the first day. There are such cases. The enemy has deeply echeloned its attack group. That is, those who went into attack in the first days are replaced by others, then replaced by thirds. Now there are constantly being brought in reserves, new ones are being brought in. So it doesn't look like the enemy is exhausting itself with daily battles. There are deeply echeloned combat formations, new ones are constantly being brought in, and they just don't even quite know the situation.

- Well, you have already said that in order to surround Avdiivka, the Russian occupiers need to walk 7-8 kilometers. And again, there was information that they managed to advance about a kilometer or two. That is, we are not saying that they control this territory directly, it is more commonly called a gray zone. So if they have accomplished a seventh or eighth part of their task, how threatening is it that they can go further?

- Of course, there is a threat, because war is a two-sided battle. So of course there is a threat and the situation is serious. We cannot say that everything is fine and everything is under control. But the tactical situation for Ukrainian troops remains very favorable. We have held the flanks of this breakthrough, and the enemy is advancing through the lowlands. All this lowland is being shelled, there is a small village of Krasnohurivka where the enemy captured it. But the flanks, the heights on the flanks are controlled by us, we are shooting at the Russians with all kinds of weapons. Our troops are holding the railroad line, which is also a fairly favorable line. Therefore, we have every opportunity to inflict unacceptable losses on the enemy, so that this Russian grouping is basically defeated.  This is a matter of deploying reserves, ammunition, organizing reconnaissance and defeating the enemy. But so far we can say that our defense near Avdiivka is quite effective. And given the huge amount of forces in this narrow area, the enemy used units of four motorized rifle brigades at once. They attacked a section of the frontline about two kilometers wide, up to 3 kilometers long, and advanced about a kilometer and a half during this time. Therefore, to say that today the enemy showed that they planted a flag on a spoil heap, well there is an achievement for which they exchanged four brigades. In fact, there are no advances that would really change the tactical situation and be critical for the defense of Avdiivka at the moment. The main problem for our troops now is fatigue. As the fighting is intense and has been going on for a long time, people really need rotations and rest. It is really exhausting to be in such intense fighting all the time.

- I wanted to ask you about the spoil heap. We remember that when this big offensive in the east, the big offensive in the Avdiivka direction of our enemy began on October 10, they immediately began to spread such disinformation in order to apparently sow panic among the civilian population. They kept saying that they had captured everything there and, among other things, constantly mentioned the spoil tip. Indeed, today a video appeared that on the spoil heap near the coke plant in Avdiivka, in addition to the Russian flag, there is also a Soviet flag, why are they so fixed on on this particular spot? Can you explain this?

- I think that the spoil heap was one of the first targets of their offensive. offensive. One of the tasks assigned to them by the command of the First Army Corps of the Russian Federation. When planning the operation, they assigned their troops to capture heights. One of these high grounds is a spoil heap. The spoil heap is not really a key height, there were no strong defenses there.  We had a small position there. But why not, because the spoil heap itself is a very difficult object to defend, it is completely open from all sides, from the air, and it is difficult to hold, it is subject to shelling from all types of weapons. It was used mainly as an observation post, sometimes as a firing position. But it was not a permanent defense line. The Russians need to show, since this war is primarily waged in the information field, that the command of the 114th motorized rifle brigade had to show that they had achieved at least one of the goals of this offensive in two weeks. Let me remind you that the Russian offensive began on October 1, and on October 10, the Russians launched a massive assault using a large number of armored vehicles. And so, at the moment, all their achievements are spoil heap in the Avdiivka. They simply have nowhere else to put their flag and report victory. That's why they have invented the Avdiivka spoil heap as a very important place where they can at least plant their flag. In fact, it is really the enemy trying to make wishful thinking. The defense of Ukrainian troops in Avdiivka remains strong and is being reinforced, and I hope that these reinforcements will be enough to completely defeat the enemy. And let the flag hang on the spoil heap, I hope it will be a nice trophy somewhere in the hallway on the floor.

-Yes, yes, you know, I made a mistake, what I took for a Soviet flag is the flag of this 114th motorized rifle brigade. I looked at it again, and it has this inscription, but it looks like a Soviet flag, it's just a red flag with this 114th Motorized Brigade written on it. You have already said that it really costs our defenders a lot of effort. In your post, by the way, in your reports, you mentioned which Ukrainian units are responsible for defense: the 110th Mechanized Brigade, the second battalion of the presidential brigade, and you mention them all. And now, when we talked to the military, we heard an idea that really sounds very cool. That despite the fact that this offensive was really, well, it was impossible to predict when it would start and so on, of course, as our military say, they have not seen such a large-scale offensive on Avdiivka since the beginning of the large-scale Russian invasion. But our military were ready and among other things they note, and I quote, "the fantastic work of our artillery." Can you confirm this, can we really say that in that direction our artillery is working in such a way that the enemy has almost no chance?

-Well, first of all, if we talk about the key factors of effective defense of Ukrainians in Avdiivka, the first thing to note is the command of the 110th mechanized brigade. It was they who organized the first defense of the borders by infantry, which reliably holds its positions. Secondly, they organized intelligence and targeting, and these factors make it possible, i.e. the infantry does not allow the enemy to advance quickly. Minefields set up by our sappers paralyze the Russian maneuver with a large number of armored vehicles. That is, the enemy is detected, targets are identified, a large number of drones are effectively working for us, and then they are struck. I think that the role of artillery in destroying the Russians there is commensurate with the role of drones. And it should be noted that drones play a huge role in these battles and drones inflict no less losses on the enemy, at least no less than artillery. And in some positions, the role of drones in defeating the enemy is key. Therefore, effective defense in Avdiivka is a well-coordinated system, it is not a single element. First of all, we should note the effective organization of troop management, the controllability of the troops. All Ukrainian units who understand the logic of the command's actions note this. And the Avdiivka defense team, the command of the 110th Mechanized Brigade, people understand what the command is doing and the logic of using troops is adequate to the situation. This is very important.

-Is it possible to transfer this experience of controlling

troops, and you have repeatedly said in our broadcasts that this is a problem of our army, or our command, let's say, not the army, is it possible to transfer this experience to other parts of the Ukrainian front?

- I hope that such positive conclusions will be drawn, because you know, if you count the forces and the conditions in which the Russian assault was stopped, I want to emphasize that in addition to the 114th brigade, the Russians sent three fresh reserve brigades of Russian motorized infantry troops with personnel. And all four of these brigades were unable to break through the narrow front north of Avdiivka.

And I hope that the right conclusions will be drawn as to how these successful actions are possible, what makes them happen, this is really a very important issue and first of all, the control and management of troops is of paramount importance. not the number of weapons, not the number of people, not the equipment, but the control of troops, their use, and trust in the command, which is formed from balanced professional decisions, both organizational and tactical.

Full interview with Yuriy Butusov is available here:

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  1. […] Yuriy Butusov: Avdiivka is one of the defining battles of this war […]

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