There is already unconfirmed chatter the Ukrainian forces have secured a bridgehead on the Kilbun peninsula. Which would make sense as it under Ukrainian artillery umbrella…
I've noticed Twitter is exploding today with reports of Ukrainian forces on the Kinburn Peninsula and in the town of Oleshky, which is immediately across the Antonovskiy Bridge from Kherson.
There has been some video shared today of Ukrainian forces operating in small boats. They seem like they could be crossing to Kinburn, but the visible shoreline is pretty nondescript. I think it is fair speculation that they sent a special forces detachment over in platoon force or larger, either for reconnaissance, to hit some target of interest, or to tie up Russian forces. There also were reports that Russia fired artillery rockets at a location near the town of Herois'ke on the peninsula. All of this remains to be verified, and if it is, also whether Ukraine follows up with a large enough force to hold the peninsula.
Do keep in mind that Russia is not unaware of the risk of a flanking attack on Kinburn. Despite the withdrawal only being announced in the last week, and completed in a few days, preparations for the loss of Kherson have been going on for weeks, at a minimum. Prefab pillboxes were documented being transported to the area in October, and I have seen reports they have been digging trenches at the narrow part of the peninsula. They would be in range of Ukrainian tube artillery there, but that applies to every front-line area. At the same time, they have locations they could position their own artillery out of range of Ukraine's (except GMLRS, which Ukraine still uses sparingly), such that Russia could also shell Ukrainian troops on the peninsula.https://twitter.com/jackryan212/status/ ... 9897250823
I consider it within the realm of possibility that Ukraine might use the rapidly shifting conditions following the withdrawal to rapidly establish a landing on the Kinburn Peninsula, but it would be a bold move, and likely challenging to break out from. Ukraine has to weigh the potential opportunity against the risk of such a thrust being pinned down, or potentially even counterattacked, and the possible value of instead sending the troops to help establish a new breakthrough somewhere else.
Regarding Oleshky, it appears the rumors are likely exaggerating hopeful posts by residents documenting an apparent lack of Russian soldiers in the town. I've seen no images yet of Ukrainian troops east of the Antonovskiy Bridge, although I did see a video from a drone operating at very low altitude that appeared to be at the east end of the bridge. As one would expect, Russia is keeping their forces on the east bank difficult to locate, but it is doubtful that they would not have forces in place to prevent a bridgehead from being established.
Wouldn't it be better for the UA to strike down into Zaporizihzhia. Ukrainian forces are already across the Dnieper river in that area. There is a large area around Melitopol reported as one of partisan activity, which I presume weakens the Russian hold there.
Map on FT shows it: https://www.ft.com/content/4351d5b0-088 ... c4dfbccbf5
Approaching Kherson oblast from the east seems less challenging to me than trying to cross the river to attack it. Additionally, it might be possible to disrupt supplies to Russian forces in Kherson via Donetsk oblast to the east.
Focusing on Zaporizhzhia is an option. I would rate it as the most obvious option, because of the lack of major geographic obstacles, the possibility of dividing Russian forces, and the opportunity to retake important infrastructure like the nuclear power plant at Enerhodar.
But because it is obvious, it might not be a very good option. Russia will defend this area heavily. As I indicated in my reply above to another post, Ukraine has to weigh each opportunity against its risks. There is no genuinely obvious answer what their best next move is. Ukraine will no doubt use a lot of reconnaissance, probing, war-gaming, and feints to set up their next major counteroffensive.
The overland supply route is important, especially for maximizing the strategic utility of Crimea to Russia, but it is not truly critical. Crimea has ports at Sevastopol and Kerch, plus there is the Kerch Strait bridges. Russia did not have the overland supply route through Ukraine from 2014 until 2022, roughly a month into the invasion when they completed surrounding Mariupol. They didn't have the road bridge until 2018, or the rail bridge until 2019.
I don't have complete information on the current bridge situation, but I believe they are currently using only one track of the railroad bridge, and one side of the road bridge with weight restrictions and periodic closures as needed for the repairs to the other side of the road bridge, plus ferries to further increase capacity.
Because of the urgency, they are rapidly making replacement spans to install on the existing piers. The first of four spans was shown to have been installed this weekend. They're supposed to finish replacing the spans on the collapsed side of the road bridge before the end of December. Then, due to damage to the other side of the road bridge, they'll replace several spans there, with a goal of completing by March. Then they will replace a portion of the rail bridge, with a plan to complete that by September.
The bridge is beyond the range of GMLRS from mainland Ukraine. Ukraine does not have an easy way to hit it again unless Russia learned nothing about truck bombs from the first attack.
Therefore, we should assume Russia will continue to be able to resupply Crimea indefinitely. It will be a very different situation logistically from western Kherson Oblast.