December 1, 2023

Brighton Journal

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Russia is using an old military tactic to stop a Ukrainian counteroffensive

Russia is using an old military tactic to stop a Ukrainian counteroffensive
A satellite image shows a close-up of the Nova Khakovka dam after its collapse in Ukraine, June 7, 2023 (Reuters)

On the morning of June 6, 2023, thousands of Ukrainians woke up to the sound of water. Explosion at Kagovka DamOn the Dnieper River.

At first, questions were raised as to how the dam collapsed or who was responsible, but Evidence is mounting that Russia deliberately broke it.

In my opinion, as a US Special Forces officer, the simple answer is usually correct and provides an explanation for the destruction of the dam. I believe that Russia deliberately destroyed the dam to defend against a Ukrainian counterattack.

As expected, A flooded river has created an impassable barrier in southern Ukraine, allowing Russia’s troops to redeploy. From Gerson – the damage was so serious – to other areas to support their defense.

has created A massive humanitarian crisis The Ukrainian military must resolve when planning and executing counterattacks aimed at driving Russian troops out of their country.

Ukrainian soldiers board a speedboat in a flooded area in Kherson, Ukraine, on June 8, 2023. Several small boats, carrying rescue workers and soldiers, cross from Ukrainian-controlled areas on the west bank of the Dnieper River. Civilians are trapped on rooftops, floors and other elevated areas. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

Known as Hydraulic warfare, the deliberate flooding of an area during war, is nothing new.

Quite the contrary, it is An effective self-defense technique dating back hundreds or thousands of years.

For example, between 1584 and 1586, Dutch rebels flooded the lowlands during the Eighty Years’ War and destroyed dams that blocked the advance of Spanish invaders.

In another case, The Chinese army broke the banks of the Yellow River in 1938 to slow the Japanese advance.

In another example, In 1941, Russian secret police blew up the Dnieper River hydroelectric dam at Zaporizhia, Ukraine, to stop the Nazi advance.

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In the current war against Russia, the Ukrainian military has also used hydraulic warfare to successfully defend its capital, Kew. In the first days of the war, in February 2022, the Ukrainians breached a dam on the Irbin River – after other methods of controlled flooding had failed – to block the advance of large Russian mechanized formations from Belarus to Kiev.

The Ukrainians strengthened the defenses of Kew by deliberately flooding the Zdvyzh and Teteriv rivers, making them impassable.

The flood played an important role in the most important battle to date.

There is nothing inherently inhumane about hydraulic warfare, but When used, it must meet the requirements of military necessity and proportionality prescribed by international humanitarian law.

This is where the destruction of the Khakovka dam by the Russians differs from the dams destroyed by the Ukrainians.

In my opinion, the Ukrainians carried out a calculated violation, which minimized the damage to the dam and caused the necessary flooding of the Zdvyzh and Teteriv rivers, creating a perfect barrier.

The destruction of the Irbin dam was minimal: 50 of the 750 houses in the small town of Demitiv were destroyed. More importantly, few are concerned about the long-term environmental impact of this military action.

While it is too early to know the full impact of the Dnepr flooding, it is expected to be far greater than the Ukrainian Irvine transgression – with some military observers questioning the ethics of this destructive act.

More than 17,000 people have already been affected in the flooded areas, and the number could rise to more than 40,000. There is the threat of floating mines and the constant challenge of providing drinking water to thousands of people.

The video, recorded by a drone, shows one of the city’s residential areas, with only the roofs of some houses visible above the surface of the water.

After a month-long Russian offensive peaked with little more than the capture of the small town of Bagmut, Russia has moved into a defensive posture to stave off a long-awaited Ukrainian counteroffensive.

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In that case, the Russian defense has some advantages.

Defenders fight from fortified positions, while attackers must advance from exposed and vulnerable positions across obstacles such as flooded streets.

Therefore, a widely accepted rule of thumb is that attacking forces should have a 3:1 ratio to defeat an entrenched defender. In other words, for every 100 defenders, attackers need at least 300 soldiers.

But the attack has its own advantages.

The attacker can choose when and where to launch an attack, and therefore can concentrate forces at the attack location to achieve this required force ratio.

The defender, on the other hand, must spread his forces over the entire battlefield if he cannot correctly predict the point of attack.

By not wanting to reveal when and where the attack will take place, the attacker often uses deception to confuse the adversary as to where to attack.

Attackers often conduct reconnaissance attacks to assess where the enemy’s defenses are weak and to fine-tune the location of the main attack.

This probably happened in the weeks before Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s announcement of “counter-aggression measures” on June 12.

Russia still maintains an advantage in troop numbers, but the advantage is not as great as it was at the start of the war.

Even with numerical superiority, I don’t think the Russians would be able to concentrate their forces along the entire defensive line. In my opinion, they also failed to correctly anticipate the location of Ukraine’s main counter-offensive effort.

As a result, the deliberate flooding of the Dnieper River removes Kherson Oblast as a counterattack base and allows Russia to redeploy security forces there to Ukraine’s main offensive locations: Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, and Luhansk Oblasts. .

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so, Blowing up the dam is a calculated and militarily wise defensive strategy, albeit dubious from the point of view of international humanitarian law.

Ukraine accused Russia of destroying a dam in Kherson that flooded the region

This created a humanitarian crisis, which Russia undoubtedly foresaw and used to its tactical advantage.

Coping with massive man-made or man-made disasters is difficult for any nation, let alone fighting for its survival.

Since the Khakovka dam broke, Ukraine has had to deal with the influx of new aid workers and the loss of tens of thousands of people from their homes, two major distractions from its main counteroffensive.

To complicate matters further, Russia continued to shell the flooded areas further complicating rescue efforts.

The war will continue for months or years, but the environmental devastation caused by this latest man-made flood will last longer.

More than a year later, the Irbin River is still overflowing and some houses and farmland have been destroyed or are unusable.

Unfortunately, flooding of the Dnieper River can be very destructive and last a long time.

Article published by The Conversation – Liam Collins, Founding Director of the Institute of Modern Warfare, United States Military Academy West Point

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