Ineffective Russian line?
Military experts see shortcomings on Putin's front
Created: 11/29/2022, 5:09 am
By: Markus Hofstetter
Russia has been building defenses in the Cherson region for weeks.
However, the fortifications appear to have a number of weak points.
Kyiv/Washington - Russian soldiers have been building positions on the east bank of the Dnieper since the beginning of October.
The work is being seen as preparation for a withdrawal from western-bank Kherson in early November, as Moscow sees its land connection to Crimea threatened by possible Ukrainian advances across the river.
This emerges from the current situation report by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) on the Ukraine war (November 27).
Russia is building defensive positions in the Kherson region: Ukrainian forces can easily bypass them
However, according to the US think tank, Russia's fortifications have some weak points, as satellite images are said to show.
According to them, the trenches and anti-tank positions in the shape of dragon's teeth were built along the main roads connecting the east bank of the Dnieper with Crimea and the hinterland around Melitopol.
A Russian Black Sea Fleet soldier guards a position located at an undisclosed location.
(Photo from November 24, 2022) © Konstantin Mihalchevskiy/imago
A weak point of the positions, according to the ISW, is that in most cases they were placed along the supply routes and not in the terrain.
This would make them resemble individual roadblocks rather than a continuous line of defences.
This would make them ineffective against the tactics of the Ukrainian armed forces.
During their offensive in the Kharkiv region, they advanced across open terrain to strategically important transport hubs such as Kupyansk and Izyum.
In doing so, they bypassed the Russian positions in order to advance more quickly.
In doing so, they forced the Russian troops to retreat.
Russia is building defensive positions in the Cherson region: Moscow relies on delaying tactics
Another disadvantage of the new positions, according to the ISW, is that they only extend beyond the roads into the terrain to create an optimal field of fire on this road from both sides.
The defense systems would also have no flank protection and would not be able to support each other because of the great distance between them.
All of this makes them vulnerable to encirclement.
Also, the anti-tank positions are often not long enough for Ukrainian tanks and other combat vehicles to simply bypass them.
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The ISW assumes that the Russian army does not want to stop the Ukrainian armed forces with these defensive positions, but only wants to delay their advance.
This would have bought time for reinforcements to be brought in to prevent breaches of the second and third lines of defence.