“The war started in Crimea and will end in Crimea“. When the Ukrainian president, Volodimir ZelenskyHe launched this promise, it was August and the war had been frozen for weeks. Just days later, his army launched a brutal counteroffensive in the north and south of the country, which has made it possible to recover key cities such as Kharkiv, Lyman, izium either Kherson.
The latter is one of the most recent and most important victories for the kyiv forces. And not just because it was the only provincial capital that it was still in enemy hands, but because Kherson, in addition to hosting one of the main ports on the Black Sea, is route entry to Crimea. A peninsula where Russia has been accumulating military forces since it illegally annexed it in 2014 and which Russian President Vladimir Putin considers a “Red line”.
Just remember how, after the blasting in mid-October from the kerch bridgelinking Russia to Crimea, Putin ordered to bomb with long range missiles residential buildings and hydroelectric power stations from more than a dozen Ukrainian cities.
Therefore, it is not surprising that now that the forces of the Kremlin have withdrawn from the right (west) bank of the Dnieper River, leaving Kherson to its fate, Moscow has decided to convert the peninsula in a fortress. Has been Sergei Aksionovhead of the Russian Executive in the territory, who reported this Friday through his Telegram channel that they are building fortifications in Crimea.
“The measures of the Russian Armed Forces and law enforcement, taken at the behest of President Putin are sufficient to make crimeans feel safe“, Aksionov noted in a video. However, he admitted to directly supervising “additional work” that would be extended to the still occupied Kherson region.
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Specifically, according to the United Kingdom Ministry of Defense in its last part, the Russian forces they’re digging trenches along the border of Crimea, as well as near the Siversky-Donets river that crosses the Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts.
One of the settlements has been located by the satellite images of November 15 collected by the Institute of the Study of War (ISW), where you can see how Russian troops have erected additional defensive positions in chkaloveapproximately 55 kilometers south of the current front line of the Dnipro River.
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This decision, taken when the kyiv troops were still more than 100 kilometers away, suggests that Russia is preparing for major Ukrainian advances. That is to say: he fears, not only that Zelensky’s army recover the entire region of Khersonbut keep pushing to the Crimea.
A complicated task to say the least if one takes into account that for this the Ukrainians must first cross the Dnieper under enemy fire and without bridges, since the Russian soldiers blew them up in their retreat. After, In winter they should get past the defensive line that Russia is trying to build on the other shore.
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It is true that the Ukrainian artillery already fires daily at the left bank of the river and that some units say they have reached it thanks to the use of boats. It is also true that they have pushed back 15 and 20 kilometers to the enemiesSouthern Command spokeswoman Nataliya Gumenyuk announced on Tuesday. However, deploying all of his forces on the other side would still take a while. So maybe the ground combat not be Moscow’s most immediate concern.
And it is that according to the deputy head of the Main Directorate of Operations of the General Staff of Ukraine, General Oleksiy Hromov, the current position of their troops allows them to have the neighboring areas of Crimea within range. In addition, throughout the war there have been mysterious attacks in the occupied territory against military infrastructures that there are those who blame partisans and those who blame attacks with drones. The last one, according to various local media reports, was an explosion at an air base in Dzhankoy, north of Crimea and more than 150 kilometers from the front.
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