Is Russia or Ukraine facing a more disadvantageous situation?

Some Russian military bloggers argue that the dam failure will benefit Ukraine because the areas controlled by Moscow will be hardest hit. Floodwaters will disrupt mine traps and damage Russian frontline positions. According to some analysts, the defenses that Russia has painstakingly built over the past several months will be partially affected, but there is no clear indication of Ukraine’s motives yet.

According to expert Michael A. Horowitz, the failure of the Kakhovka dam will make both sides lose some advantages. “Some of the defenses that the Russian military builds along the coast will be classified and this will certainly affect settlements in Russian-controlled areas. As for Ukraine, this would lead to an environmental disaster and the risk of losing one of the main energy sources in the south.”

A few months before the incident, experts expressed concern about the risk to the Kakhovka dam, warning that the reservoir at its back was already too full due to heavy rain and melting snow. “The dam failure was a disaster for everyone,” said Frank Ledwidge, a lecturer in military strategy at the University of Portsmouth in the UK.

Can Ukraine’s counterattack be thwarted?

It is still too early to determine how the dam failure will affect the Ukrainian counter-offensive, especially since Kiev has kept its plans absolutely secret. But many observers say the incident could hinder ground attacks and force the Ukrainian government to focus all its attention and resources on remedial action.

Phillips O’Brien, professor of strategic studies at St. Andrews in Scotland notes: “A hydroelectric dam failure could leave large areas inundated for long periods of time. The wet and muddy conditions on the ground will make it difficult for Ukraine to move large numbers of armored vehicles or artillery to disrupt Russian fortifications.

And according to expert Christopher Tuck, it is very unlikely that the dam failure will stop Ukraine’s counterattack completely: “River attacks are often very difficult, so Ukraine can choose to attack along the axis. inland rather than along the Dnieper. But flooding could disrupt secondary Ukrainian attacks from that direction.”

Even before the dam failure occurred, the Dnieper River was considered a significant obstacle to Ukrainian forces. They will have to find a way to cross this river by boat, overpass or pontoon or helicopter. All of those vehicles are at risk of being attacked.

Instead of crossing the Dnieper River, Ukraine could choose to attack the eastern side of the river, in the Zaporizhia region, said Michael Kofman, director of the Russian Studies Program at CNA. This offensive would help them avoid the dangerous river crossing, while still giving them a chance to separate Russian forces south of Kherson and in the eastern region.

“If Ukraine’s plan is to break through the Russian defenses in Zaporizhia and advance to the land line from Crimea, or to cut off the land corridor connecting the Crimean peninsula, flooding probably won’t impede operations.” theirs,” noted Michael Kofman.

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