A Blog by Jonathan Low

 

Jul 4, 2022

How the Ukraine War Will Be Decided In the Country's South, Not Donbas

Ukraine's increasingly successful effort to dislodge Russian troops from the Black Sea coast not only disrupts Putin's "land bridge" between Russia and Crimea, but it frees up Ukrainian seaports for import and export. 

Western media have focused on the loss of demolished cities in the east - as Russian propaganda has urged them to do - but the politico-economic decision about the war's future is being waged much further in Ukraine's south. JL 

Mick Ryan reports in War In the Future:

The Donbas has received much attention of late. However, the war in the south - and freeing Ukraine's ports from the Russians - is of greater strategic importance. The Ukrainian military has been slowly ‘chipping away’ at Russian defences in the south for some time, particularly in the Kherson region. Ukraine has been aided in this region by the nascent Ukrainian resistance movement which is operating in several areas across the south.The Russians, having concentrated more forces in the east are more vulnerable in the south. [Ukrainian] military-intelligence says forward units are now within sniper range of Kherson’s outer suburbs. The Donbas has received much attention of late. However, the war in the south - and freeing Ukraine’s ports from the Russians - is a front of greater strategic importance.

 

“A [Ukrainian] military-intelligence officer says that forward units are now within sniper range (a kilometre or so) of Kherson’s outer suburbs. “The next week or two will be even more interesting,” he promises.” The Ukrainian military has been slowly ‘chipping away’ at Russian defences in the south for some time, particularly in the Kherson region. Note: ‘chipping away’ is not an official tactical term.

 

Ukraine has been aided in this region by the nascent Ukrainian resistance movement which is operating in several areas across the south.The Russians, having concentrated more forces in the east are more vulnerable in the south. That said, the Russians have established multiple defensive lines, which will be difficult to penetrate. The Ukrainians have shown in this war how effective a defensive strategy can be if it integrates modern sensors, precision munitions, flexibility and good C2.

 

The counter-attacks by Ukraine in the south also places Russian forces in a dilemma. Do they sustain their eastern offensive, or do they significantly reinforce the south?The southern front is vital to #Ukraine. It is a strategically important campaign to seize back territory and ports. But, even with more open ports, Ukraine and the west will still need a solution to Russia’s Black Sea blockade.
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