Ukrainian drone video provides a grim look at casualties as Russian troops advance toward Avdiivka

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — As Russian forces press forward with an attempt to capture the town of Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine, The Associated Press obtained aerial footage that gives an indication of their staggering losses.

A Ukrainian military drone unit near Stepove, a village just north of Avdiivka, where some of the most intense battles have taken place, shot the video this month.

It’s an apocalyptic scene: In two separate clips, the bodies of about 150 soldiers — most wearing Russian uniforms — lie scattered along tree lines where they sought cover. The village itself has been reduced to rubble. Rows of trees that used to separate farm fields are burned and disfigured. The fields are pocked by artillery shells and grenades dropped from drones. The drone unit said it's possible that some of the dead were Ukrainians.

The footage was provided to the AP by Ukraine's BUAR unit of the 110th Mechanized Brigade, involved in the fighting in the area. The unit said that the footage was shot on Dec. 6 over two separate treelines between Stepove and nearby railroad tracks and that many of the bodies had been left there for weeks.

The AP verified the location by comparing the video with maps and other drone footage of the same area shot six days later by the 47th Mechanized Brigade.

Russian forces launched an offensive in Avdiivka in October. Though they have made some incremental gains, Western analysts say the push has resulted in thousands of casualties.

Russia launched Europe’s biggest war since WWII, invading Ukraine in February 2022.