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War map shows Ukraine’s next ‘target’ after Dnieper crossing at Kherson

Ukraine is threatening to shatter a key but largely dormant front in the country’s occupied south, with recent small-scale crossings of the Dnieper river crystallizing into a major offensive operation within a 50-mile radius of the Crimea entrance.

The Kherson Front has been relatively quiet since the liberation of the city in November 2022, with the wide and fast-moving Dnieper River – known as the Dnipro in Ukrainian – forming a natural barrier between Ukrainian forces on its western bank and the Russians occupying it. East.

While mechanized columns clash in Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk, to the east, forces along the lower Dnieper play a game of cat and mouse between the two rivers.

Ukraine has the upper hand, having managed to create small zones of control in the settlements of Krynky, Pishchanivka and Poyma – all located on the east bank of the Dnieper – despite repeated Russian counterattacks. News week contacted the Russian Defense Ministry by email seeking comment.

A Ukrainian serviceman looks at enemy positions through binoculars outside the southern city of Kherson, November 2, 2023. In recent months, Ukraine has launched major operations across the Dnieper River, separating its troops from forces Russians on the east bank of the waterway.
ROMAN PILIPEY/AFP via Getty Images

On Monday evening, the Institute for the Study of War said Kiev’s forces were continuing their operations and cited reports from a Russian blogger that Ukrainian units had “expanded their zone of control in the western part of Krynky,” about 30 kilometers northeast of the city of Kherson and 1.6 km from the Dnieper, “and that fighting continues near the settlement.”

ISW cited geotagged footage of Russian TOS-1A thermobaric artillery strikes on Ukrainian troops in the Krynky region, also noting reports from Russian bloggers of further Ukrainian attacks towards Poyma – about 7 miles to the east from the city of Kherson and 2 miles from the Dnieper – and Pishchanivka, some 8 miles east of the city of Kherson and 2 miles from the river.

The War Gonzo Telegram channel, run by Semyon Pegov and one of the most popular military bloggers with more than a million subscribers, published maps of the battlefield on Tuesday showing recent Ukrainian gains and predicting the main objective from Kiev.

“The goal is to reach the M-14 highway,” Pegov wrote, referring to the road that connects all major cities in southern Ukraine, from Odessa in the west to Mariupol in the East. The road passes through Kherson and continues to occupied Melitopol, before following the coastline of the Sea of ​​Azov to the Russian border. Ukrainian forces at Krynky and Poyma are less than 3 miles from the highway.

The road appears to be the backbone of the so-called “land bridge” of occupied Ukrainian territory connecting Crimea and Russia. The land bridge constitutes perhaps the most significant Russian success of 20 months of large-scale war. kyiv’s forces have attempted to enter the corridor via the Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk fronts, but have so far been hampered by heavy Russian defenses.

Intensified actions along the Dnieper could pose a new threat. “If success is achieved, the (Russian) armed forces will have serious problems,” Pegov wrote.

Ivan Stupak, a former officer of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and now an advisor to the National Security, Defense and Intelligence Committee of the Ukrainian parliament, said: News week that kyiv’s forces have been trying to force their way onto the eastern bank for at least four months.

“Previous operations failed; we lost a lot of soldiers, a lot of good soldiers, experienced soldiers,” Stupak said.

Ukraine now appears to have a foothold it can exploit. “I am quite sure that this operation could potentially be successful,” Stupak added, noting that around 300 Ukrainian troops operate on the east bank, most of them highly trained marines.

“At least some pieces of heavy equipment have also been transferred to the left bank,” he said, including German-made movable bridges intended to facilitate crossing the waterways.

Stupak said the M-14 highway was a “good target”, while suggesting that Ukrainian forces in the region may have the ultimate goal of crossing occupied Kherson Oblast to the sea port of Skadovsk. Black, thus cutting off the Russian forces defending the border. Kinburn Arrow.

Such an advance would place Crimea under the “fire control” of kyiv’s American-made HIMARS, Stupak added.

Situation of the Kherson battlefield as of November 20
This map produced by the Institute for the Study of War shows the battlefield situation along the Dnieper River in southern Ukraine as of November 20, 2023. Ukrainian troops have established several strongpoints on the eastern bank of the Russian-occupied waterway.
Institute for the Study of War and IEA Critical Threats Project