February 16,2024

Victory Chronicles-DAY 723

General Oleksandr Tarnavsky: The situation in Avdiivka remains difficult but under control 

The situation in Avdiivka remains difficult but under control, as Russian troops attempt to capture the city. According to the commander of the Tavria operational and strategic group, General Oleksandr Tarnavsky, intense fighting is taking place within the city, and Ukrainian troops are doing everything to deter the enemy. 

The planned reinforcement of units and maneuvering of troops in threatened areas continues, with additional ammunition and munitions being allocated. New positions and powerful fortifications are being prepared for various scenarios. The commanders on the ground are performing the tasks necessary to stabilize the situation following the plan of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. 

The focus is on saving Ukrainian soldiers’ lives, with ongoing efforts to destroy the occupier’s army and deplete their resources. Avdiivka is not surrounded, and supply and evacuation are still possible through a previously prepared reserve logistics artery.


Symbolic number of the Day


According to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, approximately 400,300 Russian occupiers have been eliminated by the Ukrainian defense forces between February 24, 2022, and February 16, 2024. In the past day alone, 1,210 soldiers were eliminated. In addition, as of February 16, the Ukrainian defense forces have reported destroying the following Russian military assets: 6,465 main battle tanks, 12,129 armored combat vehicles, 9,641 artillery systems, 984 multiple launch rocket systems, 671 anti-aircraft missile systems, 332 aircraft, 325 helicopters, 7,408 operational and tactical drones, 1,895 cruise missiles, 25 warships/boats, 1 submarine, 12,716 trucks, and 1,528 units of specialized military equipment.


War in Pictures

Ukrainian priest Stepan Podolchak was killed by Russian forces in the city of Kalanchak, in the occupied part of the Kherson oblast. He was abducted from his home two days before being killed by Russian security forces. The Kalanchak military administration confirmed the news of his murder on February 15. Podolchak was known for conducting religious services in the Ukrainian language, even under Russian occupation, and for his refusal to transfer his parish to the Moscow Patriarchate. Kalanchak is located near the administrative border with occupied Crimea and has been under Russian occupation since the start of the full-scale invasion in February 2022.


Video of the Day

The Special Operations Forces of Ukraine successfully destroyed and cleared Russian observation posts on the southern front. The operations were conducted by the 73rd Naval Center for Special Operations, which discovered a patrol boat and Russian observation posts during a reconnaissance mission in Kherson oblast. Using thermal imaging drones equipped with explosives, the UAV operator dropped them on the targets. Next, a Special Operations Forces team cleared the observation posts. In addition to destroying and clearing Russian positions, the special forces team also captured weapons and a boat. This successful operation is expected to enhance control over the oblast in the future, according to the Special Operations Forces. 


ISW report


Russian forces are conducting a tactical turning movement through Avdiivka likely to create conditions that would force Ukrainian troops to withdraw from their positions in the settlement. Ukrainian forces have yet to fully withdraw from the settlement and continue to prevent Russian forces from making gains that are more significant than the current incremental Russian advances. Geolocated footage published on February 15 indicates that Russian forces recently advanced to the southern outskirts of the Avdiivka Coke Plant in northwestern Avdiivka. 

Additional geolocated footage published on February 15 indicates that Russian forces captured a Ukrainian fortified position south of Avdiivka that has long been a Russian sub-tactical objective, and Russian milbloggers widely claimed that Russian forces effectively encircled nearby Ukrainian positions south of Avdiivka. Recently geolocated Russian advances indicate that Russian forces have cut the last road in Avdiivka connecting southern and northern Avdiivka, but Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Spokesperson Dmytro Lykhoviy stated that Ukrainian forces are currently using prepared secondary ground lines of communication (GLOCs) to supply Ukrainian forces in southern and eastern Avdiivka.

Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces made further advances west of Avdiivka in an effort to cut dirt roads that Ukrainian forces are using to supply positions in Avdiivka from Lastochkyne and Sieverne (both west of Avdiivka), although ISW has not yet observed any confirmation of these claimed Russian advances. Lykhoviy acknowledged that Ukrainian forces are withdrawing from unspecified positions in the Avdiivka area but stated that Ukrainian forces also continue to recapture some unspecified positions from Russian forces. The spokesperson for a Ukrainian brigade previously deployed to the Bakhmut area stated on February 15 that elements of the brigade redeployed to Avdiivka and are counterattacking Russian positions within the settlement. Russian forces may be able to complete the envelopment of some Ukrainian forces if the Ukrainian forces do not withdraw or conduct successful counterattacks.

The Russian offensive effort to capture Avdiivka underscores the Russian military’s inability to conduct a successful operational envelopment or encirclement in Ukraine. Russian forces initially attempted to operationally encircle Ukrainian forces in Avdiivka at the start of the localized offensive effort in October 2023, but gradually shifted towards fighting through the settlement in a turning movement after failing to conduct the rapid maneuver required for envelopment or encirclement. An operational encirclement is a maneuver in which attacking forces completely surround and then destroy an enemy grouping of forces. 


War Heroes


Senior soldier Oleksandr Babak was killed while performing a combat mission near the village of Novoselivske in the Luhansk oblast on March 21, 2023. The defender will be forever 21 years old.

Oleksandr was born in the village of Hnylytsia, Kharkiv oblast. From the age of 14, he lived with his family in the village of Zidky. In 2021, he graduated from the Kharkiv Machine-Building College with a degree in Motor Vehicle Transport and went to work with his father.

In 2020, the young man decided to join the army and signed a contract with the Armed Forces of Ukraine. He served in the 92nd Separate Mechanized Brigade named after Kosh Otaman Ivan Sirko. During the full-scale war, he served as a driver of a machine gun platoon. Together with his comrades, he defended his native Kharkiv oblast, and then went to serve on the eastern front.

“He was more than a brother to me. I miss him very much. My children have never seen him because they were under occupation, but they visited his grave and met their uncle there…” said Valeria Koshel, the deceased’s cousin.

“Oleksandr personified all the best human traits: kindness, sincerity, sociability, reliability. His death is an indescribable loss for our college and all of Ukraine. We will remember Oleksandr as a devoted son of his homeland who gave his life in the defense of Ukraine,” the Kharkiv College said.

Posthumously, Senior soldier Babak was awarded the Order “For Courage” of the III degree. The young fighter was buried in the village of Zidky, Kharkiv Oblast. Oleksandr is survived by his parents Yana and Vadym, sister Angelina, and grandmother Nastia, as well as other relatives, friends, and brothers-in-arms.

*Oleksandr’s story on the Heroes Memorial – a platform for stories about the fallen defenders of Ukraine.


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