HomeNewsThe Dnipro River, a front line between Russian and Ukrainian troops

    The Dnipro River, a front line between Russian and Ukrainian troops

    On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine. In the south, its troops penetrated from the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow has occupied since 2014, and rushed towards the Dnipro River. The river was crossed on the first day of the offensive. For nearly nine months, the Russian army camped on both sides of this artery essential to Ukraine’s economy.

    Cornered on several fronts, it eventually withdrew to the east of the river, along which it fortified its positions. In southern Ukraine, the Dnipro River became a front line where Kyiv and Moscow’s troops faced each other.

    The mouth of the Dnipro River, which flows into the Black Sea, forms a 350 square-kilometer basin. It is 1.2 kilometers wide, making it difficult for an army to cross. The river then divides into several arms, between which strips of land form islands large enough to accommodate housing.

    The river delta is dominated, in the north, by the city ​​of Kherson
    which had 280,000 residents before the war. It is not the most important city in southern Ukraine, but it is the only administrative capital that Russia managed to conquer.

    It was on the Antonivskyi Road Bridge, capable of supporting the passage of tanks, that Russian army battalions positioned in Crimea were able to cross the Dnipro River in the very first hours of the invasion. The army occupied the city of Kherson and both banks of the Dnipro until its withdrawal on November 10, 2022.

    Russian troops repositioned themselves behind the Dnipro. After their departure, the Atonivskyi Road Bridge and the d’Antonivka Railway Bridge were damaged and became unusable. The nearest crossing of the Dnipro is now 70 kilometers to the east.

    While Moscow’s troops had advanced to the outskirts of Mykolaiv, their withdrawal to the other side of the Dnipro meant the Ukrainians were no longer in danger of losing this town, the last barrier to the port city of Odesa.

    The Russian army is now camped on one bank, where it is fortifying its position along the river by
    building defense lines , similar to trenches or fortifications.

    The Dnipro River constitutes a front line on which
    target strategic sites as well as communication routes and residential areas.

    The M14 highway is a strategic axis linking the port city of Odesa to Mariupol, which has been occupied by the Russian army since May 2022. It is also a supply route for Moscow’s troops from Crimea and the border with Russia

    The North Crimean Canal, built in the Soviet era, supplies Crimea with water from the Dnipro River. It’s thanks to this large-scale project that the region has become viable in terms of agriculture and industry. After the annexation of Crimea in 2014, the Ukrainian authorities reduced the canal’s flow until it was closed in 2019.

    The Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant supplies energy to southeastern Ukraine.

    The Kakhovka Reservoir is a water reservoir, upstream of the North Crimean Canal, which regulates irrigation. Yew the hydroelectric power plant’s dam were to be destroyed, the Dnipro River could overflow, flooding the Kherson region and depriving Crimea of ​​electricity.

    The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is the most powerful in Europe. It is located more than 60 kilometers from the city of the same name, in the port of Enerhodar, on the bank of the Dnipro River, and now held by the Russians. The plant borders the Dnipro, whose waters cool the six VVER-1000 nuclear reactors. In peacetime, the plant produced over a fifth of Ukraine’s electricity. It has been occupied by Russian troops since March 4, 2022.

    On the way up the Dnipro River towards Zaporizhzhia,
    six hydroelectric dams are located one after the other. Destroying just one of these structures could threaten to flood infrastructure located downstream.

    far from the front Zaporizhzhia and the city of Dnipro, with populations of 800,000 and 1 million respectively before the war, are not currently under fire from the Russian army. It’s at this part of the Dnipro River that the Ukrainian army can now consider crossing to retake the city of Melitopol to the south and cut off the supply route between Crimea and Mariupol. For the time being, Russia and Ukraine are facing each other around the Dnipro River, a natural border between the two armies.

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    Sources: Institute for the Study of War; Acled; Eurogeographics; European Space Agency; OpenStreetMap Community; AEI Foreign Policy; The world

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