Localized air superiority and glide bombs allowed Russia to seize Avdiivka while suffering huge personnel losses

Avdiivka destroyed by war and Russian bombs, Feb 2024

Experts at the Institute for the Study of War concluded that the Russian troops temporarily established a limited and localized air superiority and were able to provide direct air support to the invading ground forces in the last days of their offensive on Avdiivka. At the same time, the Russians lost thousands of soldiers in these assaults.

Institute for the Study of War named Russia’s advantage in Avdiivka

The Institute for the Study of War’s latest report noted that, since the beginning of 2023, the Russian forces have gradually increased their use of KAB glide bombs. However, the recent widespread use of glide bombs against Avdiivka represents the first time that Russian aviation has used these bombs on a large scale to provide air support to advancing infantry forces.

Russia’s ability to conduct these massive strikes over several days in the hottest sector of the front line suggests that Ukrainian forces lacked the resources to defend the airspace around Avdiivka with air defense, and Russian forces likely used this temporary localized air superiority to facilitate the capture of the destroyed town in Donbas.

Russia poured 500 glide bombs at Avdiivka in a few days

On February 17, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Third Assault Brigade operating near Avdiivka stated that Russian invaders had fired 60 KAB glide bombs at Ukrainian positions in Avdiivka within 24 hours. 

And a Ukrainian soldier operating in the area said that in just a few days, Russian invaders had fired up to 500 glide bombs at Avdiivka. 

The commander of the Tavriya Task Force of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Gen. Oleksandr Tarnavsky, said that on February 14, Russian troops conducted 73 air strikes in this direction, a record number as Russian troops intensified their assaults on Avdiivka. 

Russian sources claim that the use of glide bombs allowed Russian troops to overcome Ukrainian defenses in Avdiivka, and some Russian military bloggers claim that Russian forces have air superiority in the area. 

Ukraine’s urgent need in more Western security assistance

The ISW emphasized that delays in Western security assistance could lead to further significant restrictions on Ukrainian air defense capabilities. This could allow Russian forces to reproduce the air support that facilitated Russia’s large-scale advance in Avdiivka. 

The limited number of air defense systems, dwindling stockpiles of air defense missiles, and continued Russian missile and drone strikes on the rear cities are likely to force Ukraine to make difficult choices about which parts of the front line receive air defense cover. Thus, Ukraine urgently needs air defense missile supplies.

Two Russian Su-34s and one Su-35 downed near Avdiivka in one day

Military analysts also noted that the Ukrainian Armed Forces shot down three Russian fighters, two Su-34s and one Su-35, over the Donetsk region and used scarce air defense assets to help cover the withdrawal of Ukrainian forces from Avdiivka. 

Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu claimed that Russian troops had established “full control” over Avdiivka, Donetsk region, as Russian forces continued to advance toward the town on February 17, and Ukrainian forces apparently withdrew from Avdiivka. However, the town has been almost annihilated by Russian bombs.

Russian sources claimed that Russian forces managed to surround large Ukrainian groups in Avdiivka, but ISW and other military experts found no evidence to support these claims.

Ukrainian forces need more air defense missiles

Delays in Western security assistance could lead to more significant restrictions on Ukrainian air defense, which could allow Russian invaders to reproduce an operation that facilitated Russia’s large-scale advance in Avdiivka with the use of KAB bombs and “meat assaults,” as Moscow doesn’t count its losses on the battlefield.

In this regard, the West needs to accelerate the supply of weapons to Ukraine to prevent the Russian war from advancing further closer to the EU borders.

Read all articles by Insight News Media on Google News, subscribe and follow.
Scroll to Top