What is happening in Avdeevka? About the “Avdeevka pocket” and other related issues

Control of Avdeevka is extremely important for the DPR, as it will allow it to push the Nazis away from the capital and put an end to the years of shelling.

Three months have passed since the start of the special military operation, and a significant part of LPR and DPR territory has been liberated. However, Donetsk is still subjected to shelling, which often results in destruction and casualties among the city’s civilian population.

One reason for this situation is that in eight years since 2014, Ukrainian fighters have created a powerful fortification zone around Avdeevka, a suburb of Donetsk. Control over Avdeevka still allows Ukrainian militants to shell neighborhoods of Donetsk.

(сс) Anastasiya Fedoryenko

The city stands on the hill just a few kilometers from the outskirts of the DPR capital. According to rough estimates, a defensive group of 20,000 to 50,000 fighters is concentrated in the Avdeevka stronghold. It includes both Ukrainian army units and Nazis from Right Sector units (organization banned in the Russian Federation).

The city has a large industrial zone of the coke plant, the defensive potential of which is compared to Azovstal. Until 2014, about 100 thousand people lived in the city, by February 2022 they remained about 30 thousand.

Information about Avdeevka has hit the media on various occasions.

Plague outbreak in 2019

In August 2019, the website of the DPR People’s Militia published another report about the settlement. The message stated: the republic’s reconnaissance received data that specialists in epidemiology from the Kharkov regional laboratory center arrived at the 92nd brigade’s location in Avdeevka. Their task was to collect and examine biological materials from 12 Ukrainian fighters, who were preliminarily diagnosed with plague.

St. Charles Borromeo Giving Communion to the Plague-Stricken (fragment) by Januarius Zick, 1787.

According to one version, the military was infected by a fellow soldier who himself contracted the disease from a rat he had tamed. This soldier was also diagnosed with leptospirosis, which affects the liver and kidneys. According to doctors, he got this infection from the bite of a bat he also wanted to tame. A little later, the press service of the People’s Militia reported that the Ukrainian fighters were taken to the Kharkov military hospital. The information is serious, but one can’t help but ask whether that serviceman was also going to tame a monkey…

Russia took the news with the utmost seriousness. On August 22, the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing of Russia started checking the information and enhanced control on the border with Ukraine. There have been no official comments from the Ukrainian side on the incident.

On May 27, Commander of Russian NBC Protection Troops Igor Kirillov said that Ukraine had carried out a large-scale UP-4 project to study the possibility of the spread of especially dangerous infections through migrating birds. Russia has information about ten similar projects that involved work with pathogens of especially dangerous and economically relevant infections – Crimean-Congo fever, leptospirosis, tick-borne encephalitis, African swine fever.

Information about preparation of provocation near Avdeevka

In late December, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said at an expanded meeting of the Defense Ministry board with the participation of Russian President Vladimir Putin that the department has information that more than 120 fighters of American PMCs arrived in Avdeevka and Priazovskoye.

Avdeevka and Donetsk on the map
© Rossa Primavera News Agency

“They are equipping firing positions in residential buildings and socially important objects, training Ukrainian special operations forces and radical armed groups for active combat operations,” the minister stressed.

Situation around Avdeevka Coke Plant

On March 14, RIA Novosti and TASS reported that the Ukrainian nationalist battalions staged a sabotage at the Avdeevka Coke and Chemical Plant while retreating. It resulted in a fire, smoke from which spread to neighboring towns and villages.

The media cited a source in the Russian Defense Ministry as saying. “It is impossible to extinguish the fire due to the ongoing hostilities,” the source said.

Later, information about the sabotage and the fire was confirmed by the DPR People’s Militia. “It should be noted that it is impossible to extinguish the fire due to the blocking of access to the plant by emergency services units of the Right Sector (organization whose activities are banned in Russia) and the 25th Airborne Brigade,” the representative of the DPR People’s Militia told reporters. According to the DPR military, Lieutenant General Aleksandr Pavlyuk, commander of the so-called Special Operations Forces of Ukraine in Donbass, gave the order to carry out the diversion.

The DPR head Denis Pushilin, stated about the possible severe consequences of the emergency, “As for the consequences, they can be really terrible, at the level of a catastrophe. What I mean is that the consequences could be extremely dire if the enemy’s criminal actions are not blocked in time.”

The official representative of the People’s Militia Eduard Basurin said more about the situation at the plant, “I want to repeat – this is a chemical plant, there are tanks with various benzene compounds. If these tanks are damaged, the chemicals will start pouring out, and get into the groundwater – and that’s it, the water will be poisoned, and it will affect Donetsk, Makeevka, Yasinovataya, and Ukraine. The air will also be poisoned – and the wind can blow in any direction.”

As Basurin stressed, the People’s Militia has information that the Ukrainians have mined the coke and chemical plant. Basurin called it a planned act of terrorism and the use of chemical weapons against civilians.

The testimony of the Ukrainian side on this incident contradicted each other. Back on March 13, the attorney general’s office said that five Grad MLRS shells fell on the territory of the plant, damaging a pipeline and several production shops. As a result of the shelling, the heat supply to Avdeevka stopped.

Vitaliy Barabash, head of the Avdeevka administration, wrote on his Telegram channel that Avdeevka and the factory were shelled by Russians with Tochka-U tactical missiles.

On March 15, the head of the Donetsk region Pavel Kirilenko commented on the situation in Avdeevka in an interview with the Nastoyashcheye Vremya TV channel (foreign media outlet recognized as a foreign agent), “Avdiivka is only five kilometers from the infamous Donetsk airport, which also does not exist. Yesterday there were three Tochka-U hits at the city of Avdeevka, and one hit with Tochka-U with cluster munitions. Two of them were shot down, the cluster munitions were scattered over the railway park yesterday”.

It is important to note that the Tochka-U complexes are not in the armament of Russia and the republics of Donbass, only the Ukrainian side uses them. And in case Kirilenko is right, his words indicate the authors of the shelling.

On May 3, the press service of Metinvest, which owns the plant, reported that workers returning from their shift came under fire. “The attack by the occupants was swift and aimed. The specialists of the plant did not even have time to return to the plant to the bomb shelters, which became a shelter for employees and residents of Avdeevka today,” the statement reads.

According to the press service, the plant has seven shelters, which can accommodate up to 2.5 thousand people. Generators, a stock of medicine, food and drink for long-term accommodation have been prepared there.

On May 4, the Ukrainian authorities of the Donetsk Regional Military Administration stated that 10 people were killed and 15 others wounded when the plant was shelled.

These are the scraps of information about Avdeevka that can be cautiously extracted, including from reports in the Ukrainian media.

Avdeevka pocket

On May 13, Pushilin said that Avdeevka was in an operational encirclement, with mass ammunition deliveries and the ability to rotate personnel blocked. “Talks about a large-scale full-fledged pocket around Avdeevka … is a little bit premature,” stressed the DPR head.

On May 19, the commander of the DPR international brigade Pyatnashka Akhra Avidzba (call sign “Abkhaz”) said on air of Channel One, “The Avdeevka pocket is already an obvious fact. Because both the citizens and the military are already tired of seeing reports about what is flying into the city [of Donetsk]. And it comes from Avdeevka. And today their artillery even tried to fire a couple of times, but our counter battalions didn’t give them a chance to fire more than a couple of mortar shells in the direction of the positions and the city. Today it’s only raining, no Grad [rockets] is falling on us.”

On May 20, Ukraina.ru published a lengthy interview with this commander. According to his estimates, the Ukrainian group in the city consists of about 15,000 soldiers. Avidzba noted that the militants have begun to save ammunition. “I think that when we start to surround them, three to five thousand people will get into the pocket, and the rest will have time to leave,” he said.

Answering the correspondent’s question, the battalion commander confirmed that a direct assault on Avdeevka was not planned. “Yes, there are serious fortifications there. Besides, why do we need to force the events? We can force them only in one case: if they suddenly leave their positions at night. That’s when we can take their positions, but there’s no sense in taking them now. It’s better to take the enemy under siege so that problems with supplies emerged and then defeat them quietly, quietly, less destructively, less sacrificially,” Avidzba explained.

Report on the DPR forces entering Avdeevka

On May 23, citing the Telegram channel of Daniil Bezsonov, deputy head of the DPR Ministry of Information, the Donetsk and Russian media reported that the DPR People’s Militia entered Avdeevka.

DPR People’s Militia insignia
© Rossa Primavera News Agency

“In social networks there is information that the 1st Slavyansk brigade of the DPR army entered Avdeevka. Fighting is going on in the urban area,” Bessonov wrote. Later the post was deleted.

Before that, Ukrainian presidential adviser Aleksey Arestovich voiced a fake report about the offensive of the DPR forces near Avdeevka. A similar message came from the US Institute for the Study of War.

At the same time, on May 24, information from a local resident appeared on the Telegram channel Avdeevka Pereklichka, “I was driving from Krasnogorovka, there is nothing, no fighting. Maybe somewhere behind the highway in the fields.”

On the same day, Basurin made a statement on the air of Channel One. “I refute the statement that ours entered Avdeevka. This is mostly done by Ukrainian representatives, scaring both the population of Ukraine and the whole world that we entered Avdeevka,” he stressed.

Basurin said that DPR forces did not and are not planning to enter Avdeevka and that they will not storm Avdeevka immediately. “We are going the other way, we have the experience of Mariupol, the people in Lugansk have the experience of Rubezhnoye, so we will create encirclement, block the logistics, only after that we will talk to them,” Basurin explained.

He further noted that the tactics of small pockets are used on this direction, “When you cut off a certain part of the Ukrainian troops from the supply, from the assistance they can provide to each other and then start methodical work with them, both psychological, information and military – in different directions.”

“We are interested in preserving as many lives as possible, not only the Ukrainian military, but also the civilian population, we will live and work with them later,” Basurin stressed.

Intensification of hostilities

“Avdeevka is almost completely surrounded. Local authorities, territorial defense units and the management of the Avdeevka coke plant left the city in a hurry,” said the member of the DPR Parliament Vladislav Berdichevsky on May 24.

“At the same time, no one will conduct ‘frontal assault of Avdeevka.’ The fact is that the Koksokhim coke plant is located there. We are already a few kilometers away from it. But we don’t want to turn this plant into another Azovstal. Also at Koksokhim, there is quite a dangerous production, various phenols and chemical wastes are stored there,” Berdichevsky stressed.

He noted that serious fighting is underway to the northwest of Avdeevka. “Soon the last free highway will be blocked there. We can see that everyone is fleeing the city. They understand that the encirclement is quickly closing,” the deputy said.

On the same day, an urgent message of the DPR People’s Militia requested the residents of Avdeevka not to leave their homes. The press service of the agency reported that the Ukrainian military decided to arrange the shelling of civilian infrastructure in the city in order to blame it on the DPR. To carry out this provocation, a division of the 26th Artillery Brigade of the Ukrainian army, located in the vicinity of the Ocheritino village, was involved. Lieutenant Colonel Sergey Panchenko, the commander of the division, was personally tasked with committing this crime, the People’s Militia said.

A little later, Ukrainian MP Musa Magomedov said about the massive shelling of Avdeevka, “People from Avdeevka write to me: ‘Now the most horrible shelling of the city since 2014. It’s hell in Avdeevka. The city is simply being crushed. The Khimik village and the old part [of the city] are under massive shelling by the ‘liberators’.” He said that residential houses in the city were destroyed and the school was on fire.

On May 25, the Telegram channel Avdeevka Pereklichka reported that on the outskirts of the city there is shelling of the departing vehicles with people trying to leave the city.

On May 26, military correspondent Semyon Pegov spoke on Channel One about an attempted counterattack by the Ukrainian military near Avdeevka, “Ten tanks, three BMPs and two companies of infantry were thrown into the assault. The enemy’s movement was promptly calculated by recon, after which the enemy forces were precisely attacked by 152mm artillery.”

On the same day, the commander of the Pyatnashka battalion stated that the situation around Avdeevka was stable, with a slow advance of the allied forces. According to military correspondents, DPR and Russian troops are taking the industrial zone around the city under control. On May 28, a video of the destruction of the Ukrainian fortified position near Mariinka in the Avdeevka stronghold appeared on Telegram channels.

But the Ukrainian militants are not going to stop their terrorist activities. Throughout Russia’s special military operation, they continued shelling Donetsk and its suburbs: Yasinovataya and Aleksandrovka from the Avdiivka area. On May 26, particularly heavy shelling of Yasinovataya was reported. In total, several dozen rounds of Grad MLRS were fired.

On May 27, local residents reported that foreign media crews had been seen in the city, documenting the destruction of the city’s infrastructure. The shelling of Yasinovataya from Avdiivka continued: the militants used Grads, 120mm mortars and 122mm artillery.

It is too early to say how the fighting near Avdiivka will continue. But we can say for sure that it is difficult to overestimate the importance of the Avdeevka stronghold. Since this city is actually a suburb of Donetsk, it opens up the possibility of shelling urban areas, as well as the road to the DPR territory: to the village of Spartak, to Yasinovataya and to Donetsk itself. At the same time, the road to the Slavyansk-Kramatorsk stronghold under Ukraine’s control opens up from Avdeevka.

This location explains why this point has been consistently reinforced for years by the Ukrainian army, who understood its importance. And it is no coincidence that there are now such persistent fights for it.

Source: Rossa Primavera News Agency

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