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Ukrainian tanks playing key role in defending Avdiivka against Russian assaults after taking a backseat in fighting

A Ukrainian tank drives along the field on December 7, 2023 in Avdiivka, Ukraine.
A Ukrainian tank drives along the field on December 7, 2023 in Avdiivka, Ukraine.Kostya Liberov/Libkos/Getty Images
  • Ukraine's tanks are playing a key role in defending Avdiivka from Russian assaults.

  • Tanks have generally taken a backseat in fighting to avoid minefields and drone and artillery attacks.

  • After suffering heavy armor losses, Russian forces in Avdiivka are largely advancing on foot.

Ukrainian tanks, which have taken a backseat in fighting in recent months, are playing a key role in fending off Russian attacks around the embattled city of Avdiivka.

Both Russia and Ukraine have generally been positioning their tanks behind the front line to avoid hitting minefields and being struck by drones and artillery, Forbes reported.

Instead, they have been used more as long-range artillery rather than engaging in direct combat.

However, in Avdiivka, where Russia has been carrying out its biggest assault in months, Ukraine's tanks have returned to the front of the fight.

"We hold the defense line thanks to the tanks. Tank and artillery systems are extremely important. Tank, artillery, and infantry units all work in a coordinated manner," a Ukrainian soldier near Avdiivka told Anadolu.

When Russia began its campaign to seize Avdiivka, its forces continuously sent armored columns to the fight and suffered heavy losses, including hundreds of tanks and other vehicles.

A military analyst previously told Business Insider that the "disorderly" columns were vulnerable to Ukrainian attacks, and their continued use showed that Russia hadn't learned lessons from earlier big defeats.

Since mid-November, it appears that Russia copied Ukraine's counteroffensive tactics, with soldiers leaving their vehicles behind and advancing on foot, Forbes reported.

In response, Ukraine has begun using its tanks as frontline fighting vehicles once again.

A video that circulated online this week appears to show tanks part of Ukraine's 116th Brigade firing on attacking Russian troops, who can then be seen fleeing on foot.

Ukraine has deployed at least five brigades to the Avdiivka front, including one tank brigade and four mechanized brigades, which have tanks, per Forbes.

Russia is continuing with its assault on the city in Donetsk Oblast, despite having made marginal gains.

Russia has suffered heavy losses in personnel and equipment in Avdiivka, but its forces appear to be able to continuously reinforce with new recruits, the think tank the Institute for the Study of War said.

While Ukraine has been suffering from manpower shortages, Russia, which has a population over three times the size of Ukraine's, has not had the same problem.

The US sent 31 advanced M1A2 Abrams tanks to Ukraine in September — but they've been notably absent from the fighting.

Analysts told Business Insider that this is probably because it's hard to put them to good use, citing the worsening weather and Russia's hardcore defensive lines.

Ukrainian forces would be "waiting for the right moment," probably spring, when a new offensive could be launched, Mark Cancian, a retired US Marine Corps colonel a senior advisor with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Business Insider last month.

Read the original article on Business Insider