The Russians assume they can be attacked anywhere. So says defense specialist Peter Wijninga of the The Hague Center for Strategic Studies. Wijninga deduces this from the locations of the Russian defenses that are being built hastily all along the front in anticipation of the Ukrainian counter-offensive.
Asked where the Ukrainian forces will strike, Wijninga says there are many indications that it will be in the south. Ukraine has made it very clear that it wants Crimea back. It has also indicated that they actually want to return to the coast of the Sea of Azov. Mariupol might be on the list, Melitopol might be on the list.’
After all, whoever has Melitopol controls the land bridge between Donbas and Crimea. If the Ukrainians took that city, it would isolate the Russians in Crimea. ‘You can see from the Russian defenses where they might be expecting the Ukrainians. Even on the west coast of Crimea, huge defenses have been built at certain points where the beach is accessible. So the Russians actually assume that they can be attacked anywhere.’
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Wijninga also outlines the possibility that the Ukrainians will cross the Dnipro towards Zaporizhia or that the offensive will be launched from Kherson. ‘It’s also possible they’re trying to cut through somewhere near Donetsk, from Voledar. Or from the direction of Kharkov towards Luhansk. ‘There are countless possibilities.’
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