Discover more from All Facts Matter
Is Ukraine Attempting To Flank Russia's Defenses Along The Dnipro?
An interesting tactical development along the Kherson front has unfolded in the past few days.
Ukraine has been launching a variety of attacks on the Kinburn Spit and the Kinburn Peninsula, which lie south of Kherson City and offer a natural chokepoint to maritime traffic seeking to access either the Dnipro or the Bug Rivers.
Ukrainian troops are now fighting to liberate the Kinburn Spit, the tip of the narrow Kinburn Peninsula jutting into the Black Sea. It’s a strategic chokepoint for both the Dnipro and South Bug rivers, controlling access to the key ports of Kherson City and Mykolaiv respectively.
While control of the Kinburn Spit and ultimately the Kinburn Peninsula is essential for strategic control over the ports at Kherson and Mykolaiv, there is another consideration—it forces Russia to extend its defensive lines east of the Dnipro south into the peninsula to avoid being flanked.
Pulling the map view back to take in more of Kherson Oblast illustrates what else might be in play here.
Note that the major roads in the area are all well within the range of Ukrainian artillery and HIMARS missile batteries. If Russia wants to defend the peninsula it has to place troops under Ukrainian artillery fire to do so.
As is common for such coastal formations, the spit and the peninsula are relatively flat, and Kinburn Spit itself has few structures to provide cover for Russian forces. Given Ukraine occupying the higher ground on the other side of the Dnipro, Russia is facing a major challenge defending both the spit and the peninsula.
If Russia cedes the Kinburn, not only is Ukraine able to establish a presence on the eastern bank of the Dnipro, but it also is in a position to work its way along the coast towards the Isthmus of Perekop connecting the Crimean Peninsula to Ukraine proper. Ukraine’s latest drone attack on Sevastopol indicates a desire to contest control of Ukraine’s coastline.
"An attack by three more drones was repulsed over the waters of Sevastopol," occupation governor Mikhail Razvozhaev said, according to the Telegram channel of the Russian official news agency TASS. "He added that previously downed Ukrainian drones tried to attack Balaklava Thermal Power Plant."
"Two drones were shot down by air defense while trying to approach the Balaklava Thermal Power Plant," Razvozhaev said, according to the Telegram channel of the Russian official news agency RIA Novosti. "Attacks by three more drones were repelled over the Black Sea, there were no damages to civilian infrastructure and there were no casualties."
By denying the Russians a safe harbor in Sevastopol, Ukraine gains considerable freedom of movement along the coastline.
Should Ukraine be able to push as far east as Zaliznyi, they begin to be in a position to flank the Russian defenses along the eastern bank of the Dnipro, thereby avoiding the high casualties that would surely follow a frontal assault on the Russian positions across the Dnipro.
Unless Russia’s defenses bend eastward along the coast to encompass Zaliznyi and other settlements in the area, Russia’s forces remain vulnerable to flanking pressure.
If Russia is forced to fall back even further, to where the land bridge to Crimea becomes merely a thin sliver of territory from Melitopol to Armiansk, Russia would be on the verge of losing the biggest strategic prize of the entire war—land access to Crimea.
It is far too soon to know with certainty Ukraine’s strategic intentions in Kherson Oblast, other than to note Kyiv’s dogged determination to reclaim every square inch of the province. Whether Russian forces in the region can adapt their defensive positions to deny Ukraine their southern flank also remains to be seen.
This much, however, does seem absolutely certain: Ukraine is not intending to “rest easy” during the winter months. They mean to keep fighting no matter the weather and no matter the season.
All Facts Matter is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber. Alternatively, please consider leaving a tip through Ko-Fi. Thank you always for your support!