5 thoughts on “Putin’s Options In Ukraine”

  1. Yesterday I was looking at the maps, wondering how much progress Ukraine needs to make on the center front to render Russia’s position to the south untenable, or at least extremely difficult to maintain.

    Transportation along the coast of the Sea of Azov is tenuous, with just one coastal highway (the M14) and few if any well-connected secondary roads because the whole area is cut by lots of small rivers. The coastal highway M14 running from Mariupol to Melitopol runs through Berdyansk, from which some highways fan out. But everything flowing into Berdyansk requires the M14, and the M14 has a whole lot of highway bridges without alternate paths around them if they’re dropped.

    Without the M14, there are no major supply routes within twenty or thirty miles of the coast, just twisty farm roads that aren’t even connected up that well, so long-term defense in a battle of attrition is virtually impossible to sustain. And the Ukrainian army won’t have to push the front back very far before that situation comes into play, and the southern forces are essentially cut off from the Donbas. The Ukrainians don’t have to push the Russians all the way to the coast, just push them to within twenty or thirty miles of it before major difficulties arise. And after that, Russia’s southern forces are just hanging on via the Kerch bridge, which is already vulnerable.

    1. That’s a good summary of Russia’s unenviable tactical and logistics situation.

      The Ukrainians can already shoot clear across Zaporizhzhia and have hit the Kerch Strait Bridge twice. They’ve also seriously damaged a number of other bridges on key Russian logistics routes and raised merry hell inside Crimea. They will continue to do more such.

      The Ukrainians seem bent on “stopping the bloodflow,” so to speak, between the Donbass and Crimea plus the other current Russian holdings in the center and west of Ukraine, then wait for lack of food and ammo to render the Russian forces there vulnerable to a quick roll-up.

      Meanwhile, chipping away at the still-occupied areas of the Donbass will continue as will the same sorts of logistics interdictions – including non-trivial destruction of transport assets inside Russia – that will allow another such roll-up to be done once sufficient prep work is complete.

      But the Ukrainians also have the option, once the Russians in Crimea and places just north of it, are sufficiently cut off from resupply and reinforcement, to just let them stew and roll up Donbass first.

    1. It could end quite suddenly with an all-NATO knockout punch to Russia if Putin keeps doing silly things like having his puppet dictator in Belarus continue flying helicopters into Polish airspace.

      Absent that eventuality, however, it will still take the Ukrainians awhile to squeeze the Russians entirely out of their country. But they are nibbling inexorably away at the current front lines and doing quite a good job of wrecking Russian logistics and command structure well behind the front lines.

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