Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine, Prediction 3

I posted my first detailed prediction about what would transpire in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on September 17, soon after the completion of Ukraine’s counteroffensive in the Kharkiv region. What I Expect in the War in Ukraine – Missives to the Abyss ( In that post I predicted Ukraine would not push much further forward in the Kharkiv region but would consolidate their gains there. Ukraine also would not be very aggressive in attacking in the Kherson region so as to avoid unnecessary casualties.  

I expect the Ukrainians to bypass Luhansk and Donetsk and push to the south southeast toward the shore of the Sea of Azov near Berdiansk, probably aiming toward the region between Berdiansk and Mariupol, but not actually into either city. The Ukrainians will wait until they have amassed sufficient forces and have a decided advantage over the Russian troops in the area. The Ukrainians will also wait until they have the weaponry that they believe will be able to take out the Kerch Bridge from that shoreline. I say that because the goal of this southern push will be to cut off the Russian supply routes coming west from Russia along the northern shore of the Sea of Azov, including M14, as well as the Russian supply routes coming west from Russia south of the Sea of Azov, namely over the Kerch Bridge.

In my prediction on October 20 I wrote the following.

Ukraine’s strategy has put them within reach of decimating Russia’s ground forces in the Kherson region. A large number of Russia’s forces are on the wrong side of the Dnipro River with no quick and efficient way to be either resupplied or to retreat. The damage done to the Kerch Bridge makes resupplying Russian forces even on the “safe” side of the Dnipro much more difficult, if not impossible. Another Prediction for Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine – Missives to the Abyss (

The militarily significant activities in Ukraine have pretty much followed my predictions except that Ukraine was able to hit the Kerch Bridge prior to reaching the northern shore of the Sea of Azov, which I did not think they could do.

The strategy that Ukraine is following now is to concentrate on pushing Russian forces in the Kherson region across the Dnipro River. This will likely entail taking the city of Kherson back. When the Ukrainians force the Russians back across the Dnipro, the Ukrainians will likely capture a sizable amount of military equipment. Unlike in Kharkiv a higher percentage of this equipment will be disabled or destroyed by the Russians as the Russians leave it behind while retreating across the Dnipro.

Right now the Ukrainians have the advantage in Kherson because the Russians have the Dnipro at their back which makes resupply difficult and cuts off any easy path of retreat. Once the Russians have retreated over the Dnipro this Ukrainian advantage disappears in Kherson and the Russians have the advantage in defending against further Ukrainian offensive operations across the Dnipro. At that point in time, the Dnipro River will be a dividing line between Ukrainian and Russian forces from the Black Sea to Zaporizhzhia. This will create a stalemate in the Kherson region. Perhaps incidentally, controlling the Dnipro will allow Ukraine to cut off most of the fresh water which flows to Crimea via a canal.  

Blue line in upper left is the future “stalemate” line. Three black arrows are next Ukrainian counteroffensives.

This is likely Ukraine’s strategy. The Russian forces will be fixed there in defensive positions and the Ukrainians will have a relatively easy defensive line in the form of the Dnipro to defend. This will allow substantial Ukrainian forces to be freed up for a Ukrainian counterattack from the area between Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk toward the shore of the Sea of Azov around Berdyans’k and Mariupol. The goal is to completely cut off the overland resupply of Russian troops north of the Sea of Azov and over the Kerch Bridge. The Kerch Bridge was hit on October 8 and will be hit again, at some point.

Although Ukraine is not conceding Luhansk and Donetsk to the Russians, retaking those two cities and regions is not as critically important at this time. The more important goal for the Ukrainians both short and long term is Crimea. Ukraine will never have secure access to the Black Sea, and therefore be economically viable, with Russia controlling Crimea. The Ukrainians can and will retake Crimea.

I’ve written repeatedly about the Ukrainian’s military strategy and very little about Russia’s strategy. The reason for this is Russia really does not have a coherent military strategy and with their depleted equipment and forces are not in position now to pursue a real military strategy.

Russia has in the past ruled and influenced their neighbors by intimidation and fear and that is the strategy Putin is still following now in his “special military operation” in Ukraine. Rules related to effective military planning, notably logistics and training and equipping forces, is not a focus of Putin and the Russian ultranationalists. Beating their chests and trying to intimidate Ukrainians and their supporters is their focus. And their efforts at instilling fear is proving to be less and less effective as the Ukrainians under Zelensky have stood their ground and fought.

When Crimea is cut off from overland supplies both north and south of the Sea of Azov the critical phase of Ukraine’s efforts to retake their territory will have begun. We can expect the Ukrainians to continue to stick to a disciplined military strategy, to protect their forces from unnecessary losses, and to plan carefully.

We also can expect Putin and his ultranationalist supporters to continue to lash out and flail around in an effort to break the will of both the Ukrainian people and Ukraine’s supporters. The Ukrainian people will not break, some of Ukraine’s supporters may.

The Ukrainians are not fighting and sacrificing the lives of their soldiers to get back to the status quo on February 24, 2022. Ukraine is looking to retake what is rightfully theirs, Crimea. If Ukraine can retake Crimea a new day will dawn in all of the Black Sea region and throughout the former Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact countries, a new day of hope and possibility. If Russia retains Crimea the instability and chaos in the region will continue into the future.