Mystery of river hinders both Russian and Ukrainian troops in Donbass region

Two main fronts are currently emerging. Russia sends combat troops east to try to capture Lugansk and Donetsk regions. The Ukrainian side tried to defend and repel the Russian army.

A Russian pontoon bridge across the river was destroyed by the Ukrainian side.  Photo: Telegram.
A Russian pontoon bridge across the river was destroyed by the Ukrainian side. Photo: Telegram

The natural border created by a river in eastern Ukraine influenced the advance of both sides.

Russia currently has nearly 100 tactical battalion groups (BTGs) in Ukraine and about 20 more on the border, according to US officials. Each BTG has about 1,000 troops, but US officials estimate many units are worn out after more than two months of armed conflict.

In Lugansk and Donetsk, apart from Mariupol, no towns fell into Russian hands. That reality is likely to change after weeks of Russian shelling of the Lugansk industrial belt — a string of major cities. At Rubizhne the Ukrainian resistance had disappeared. What remained were scenes of destruction, power and water failures.

The occupying powers – consisting mainly of Chechen fighters and militiamen from the self-proclaimed Lugansk Republic – were also given nothing but wasteland. But the loss of Rubishne makes the nearby city of Severodonetsk (population 100,000 before the war) more vulnerable.

The role of the river Siversky Donets

Here the role of the winding river Siversky Donets appears. The river rises in Russia and empties into Ukraine, forming swamps, estuary plains and chain-like lakes, and cutting through cliffs on its way. In other words, this is a nightmare for any military attack.

Russia tried, but with little success, to build several pontoon bridges across the river to encircle Ukrainian troops. Satellite images show at least three bridges were destroyed this week, inflicting significant casualties on the Russians.

Further west, the Russians appeared to have crossed the river but had not advanced far. Meanwhile, their strategic target – Sloviansk – possesses a deep defense system.

To secure an offensive in this area, Russian troops must resupply across the border. The line serving them runs from Belgorod to the Ukrainian railway junction of Kupiansk and further south.

Ukrainian forces appear determined to break through this “funnel” and have made some progress in retaking territory north and east of Kharkov. In some places Ukrainian units saw the Russian border and brought Russian supply lines within cannon range.

The image of the southern front

In this area the picture is less dynamic. The front lines here rarely move. Russia still controls a sizable portion of farmland in the Kherson and Zaporizhia regions, but its efforts to move north have been intermittent.

The Russian side continues to launch cruise missile attacks on Odessa and coastal areas.

US intelligence does not appreciate the scenario that Russian troops will attempt to seize the entire coast of Ukraine, as this will require a full mobilization of forces within Russia, which President Putin has so far not voiced.

Instead, it’s possible that Russia will try to tighten its control over the land corridor running from the Crimean border and try to “integrate Kherson into Russia” by issuing Russian passports and rubles and a pro-Russian government forms.

war of attrition

One side is less likely to knock out the other in the coming months. It is very likely that the war will take place in some form of attrition as the West increases arms sales to Ukraine.

Avril Haines, director of the United States National Intelligence Agency, said this week, “With both Russia and Ukraine believing they can make further military advances, we see no viable avenue for negotiation, at least in the short term.”

Haines said the war is inherently uncertain and could escalate into a war of attrition. Since Russia lacks conventional military capabilities, this war could develop in unpredictable directions in the coming months, she said.

At this point, any mistake on either side will affect the outcome of the war, just as the ancient Chinese strategist Sun Tzu once said: “The chance of avoiding defeat is in our hands, but the opportunity to defeat the enemy will.” created by the opponents themselves.

According to VOV