The recent success of the Ukrainian army in pushing back Russian forces along the Dnieper River has raised hopes of a potential breakthrough in the ongoing conflict. While military experts acknowledge the significance of these advances, they caution that turning this progress into a game-changing victory will be a formidable challenge.
Ukrainian troops announced their arrival on the left bank of the Dnieper River in the southern Kherson region, claiming to have pushed Moscow’s forces back by a distance of 3 to 8 km. This marks the largest territorial gain by Ukraine since the recapture of Robotyne in August. However, the extent of Ukrainian control over the area remains unclear.
According to military analysts, the reconquered territory is of relatively small size and does not provide sufficient room for deploying heavy military equipment. Alexander Khramchikhin, a pro-Kremlin military expert, asserts that without such equipment, any further offensive would result in significant losses for Ukraine. The recent replacement of the commander of the Russian “Dnieper” military group suggests the challenging situation the Russian forces face in the region.
French military expert Michel Goya characterizes the Ukrainian operation as “fairly limited, fairly symbolic.” While it may not represent a major breakthrough, it does serve as a means to claim small victories following the failure of previous offensives. Goya also highlights the continued pressure exerted on the Russian forces and the resulting need to divert reserves to defend the Dnieper front.
To achieve a substantial breakthrough, the Ukrainian army needs to move beyond the river and establish a presence on the other side. This task involves crossing a significant natural barrier and navigating through marshy terrain during the rainy season. Ukrainian forces aim to disrupt Russian supply routes, necessitating the expansion of their bridgehead across the Dnieper.
Russian journalist Michael Nacke emphasizes the relative weakness of Russian units in the region, suggesting that the Ukrainian operation keeps them engaged and prevents them from focusing on other sectors of the front. Moreover, deeper advances in the south could potentially enable a larger assault on the Crimean peninsula, which was annexed by Russia in 2014. However, such a maneuver would require substantial reinforcements in terms of troops and vehicles.
Notably, the construction of reliable bridges over the Dnieper is crucial for the Ukrainian forces. Pontoon bridges, the current solution, are vulnerable to Russian air and land firepower, which has not been fully neutralized. Ukrainian military analyst Mykola Bielieskov also highlights the risk posed by Russian drones, which are difficult to counter effectively. Without proper bridges, advancing further and deploying heavy artillery remains problematic.
The existing Ukrainian forces that have crossed the Dnieper comprise mainly infantrymen and naval commandos, supported by a limited number of vehicles. Their main protection lies in the artillery stationed on the opposite bank. French analyst Goya suggests that to progress deeper into enemy territory, both heavy equipment and artillery must advance together; otherwise, the forces risk being cut off from vital support.
It is worth noting that the Russians have designated Krynky as a secondary priority, with their main focus on encircling Avdiivka, an industrial city in the east. Therefore, the advances made by Ukrainian forces in the southern region place additional strain on the Russian military, diverting their attention from other critical areas.
While the recent gains by the Ukrainian army signify progress in the long-standing conflict, the road to a significant breakthrough remains challenging. The Ukrainian forces need to overcome various obstacles, including the deployment of heavy equipment and the construction of secure bridges. Only then can they push further into enemy territory and potentially change the course of the war.
- Q: What are the recent gains made by the Ukrainian army against Russia?
- A: Ukrainian troops have pushed back Russian forces along the left bank of the Dnieper River in the southern Kherson region.
- Q: How significant are these gains?
- A: While they represent the largest territorial gain by Ukraine since August, experts consider them relatively limited and symbolic.
- Q: What challenges do Ukrainian forces face in turning these gains into a breakthrough?
- A: They need to deploy heavy equipment, establish a presence on the other side of the river, and construct secure bridges to advance further into enemy territory.
- Q: How does this operation affect Russian forces?
- A: The Ukrainian advances place additional strain on the Russian military, forcing them to redirect their reserves and attention away from other critical areas.