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Ukrainian soldiers of 25th Airborne Brigade neutralize Russian convoy of 20 combat vehicles

On April 1, 2024, in the Avdiivka sector, soldiers from the 25th Airborne Brigade announced they had repelled an offensive of Russian armored vehicles, marking a victory against the invading forces near the village of Tonenke. The military brigade shared a video showcasing the successive destruction of a Russian convoy, including 12 tanks and 8 BMPs of the 6th Tank Regiment.
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Screenshot of the video showing the destruction of several Russian armored vehicles near the village of Tonenke (Picture source 25th Airborne Brigade)

On March 30, Russian invasion forces launched an attack on Ukrainian positions near Tonenke, deploying 36 tanks and 12 infantry fighting vehicles, identified as belonging to the 6th Regiment of the 90th Tank Division of the Russian Army, according to some analysts.

In response, Ukrainian paratroopers published footage showing the destruction of one of the Russian convoys in the Avdiivka sector. During this battle, four tanks and two infantry fighting vehicles of the enemy were destroyed. The offensive was countered with a variety of weapons, while Ukrainian drones constantly flew over the battlefield, providing crucial support to adjust the actions of Ukrainian defenders and eliminate the invading forces. In total, the Russian assault resulted in the loss of 12 tanks and 8 BMPs of the 6th Tank Regiment near Tonenke.

In another notable development, the Defense Forces destroyed a 2S1 Gvozdika self-propelled howitzer in the Donetsk region. Struck by a Ukrainian FPV drone, the howitzer's ammunition detonated, causing an explosion that blew off the turret and completely burned out the vehicle, both inside and out. The attack was conducted by a drone operated by an operator from the Eyes of Retribution group of the 59th Separate Infantry Brigade.

To neutralize enemy vehicles, the standard defensive tactic of Ukrainian forces involves using drones to locate a Russian assault group and then disrupting it with a precisely targeted artillery barrage. The artillery scatters the Russian vehicles, turning the disorganized survivors into easy targets for FPV drones that attack individual soldiers and vehicles. Mines and anti-tank missiles may further contribute to the destruction.

This tactic emerged out of necessity after pro-Russian Republicans in the U.S. Congress cut off aid to Ukraine in October, depriving Ukrainian forces of the majority of their heavy munitions and eventually forcing the ammunition-starved garrison in Avdiivka to retreat in mid-February.

In a dynamic six-week effort starting in mid-February, a Czech-led consortium gathered over a billion dollars to purchase at least a million artillery shells for Ukraine. The first of these shells are expected to arrive in the coming weeks, partially restoring the firepower of Ukrainian artillery. However, this several-month gap in ammunition motivated Ukraine to significantly expand its production of FPV drones. A network of small workshops now produces more than 50,000 drones per month.

Whereas a Ukrainian artillery battery might have previously fired 10 shells to defeat a Russian assault group, it now only fires five shells and coordinates with nearby FPV operators to finish off the Russians.

These events once again highlight the crucial importance of drones on the battlefield, both from a standpoint of visual support to adjust strikes and maximize hits, and for conducting direct strikes using FPV drones.

Furthermore, these developments underscore the intensity of the ongoing battles and challenges in the Avdiivka region. While each battlefield victory may prove to be of strategic importance, under the pressure of the Russian army, the maneuvering margin of the Ukrainians continues to shrink. Western support, although significant, is still not sufficient to allow Ukraine to repel Russia's attacks, nor does it enable Ukraine to conduct a counter-offensive.

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Damaged and abandoned armored vehicles after an assault attempt near the village of Tonenke (Picture source 25th Airborne Brigade)

Defense News April 2024

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