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Smart Bombs: Military, Defense and National Security

NATO Has a Problem: Has Russia Established Its Donbas-Crimea Land Bridge?

Russia T-72 Tank
Russia's T-72 tank. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

After shifting its military focus from central Ukraine to the eastern Donbas region, Russia’s forces have spent more than a month attempting to establish a land bridge between Russian-occupied Donbas and the annexed Crimean peninsula.

The land bridge would make it easier for Russian troops to reach the eastern Ukrainian Donbas region from the south, and help troops consolidate their control over some parts of the country.

According to Professor Michael Clark, a defense and security analyst, Russia has officially established that land bridge.

What Did Clark Say?

Speaking to Britain’s Sky News, the former director of the Royal United Services Institute and a fellow of King’s College London explained how there has been “quite a lot of movement” after weeks of stalling.

“The Russians have now finished with Mariupol, they’ve got their land bridge,” he said in a special report for Sky. “The land bridge that runs from the Donbas through to Crimea and a little bit further westwards. And that land bridge will take some recapturing if the Ukrainians really want to push back in this war sometime later on.”

“For now, all the attention is on the Donbas – the Donbas region where the Russians are pursuing this bite and hold strategy,” he added, explaining how Russians are “biting” and then “holding” territory gained in eastern Ukraine.

Russian troops appear to be attempting to “bite and hold” two main areas in Ukraine’s east – Popasna and Sievierodonetsk. Russia has controlled Poposna for weeks now, and after determining that they can hold the area, troops are now moving westwards and northwards towards Sievierodonetsk.

The city is an important location for Russian troops. It is currently surrounded by Russians on three sides, and previous efforts to invade from the West have failed.

“But the Russians will undoubtedly try again,” Professor Clark said.

Russian forces are also attempting to expand their control west of Popasna, fighting in Izyum and Lyman – but even without these regions, the fact that Russia now controls the city of Mariupol means that the land bridge between the Donbas and Crimea is now complete.

Now that the Russians have bitten, time will tell whether they can hold.

Zelenskyy Promises to Take Back Crimea

Not only will Russian troops need to focus on maintaining control over territory in eastern Ukraine, but they’ll also need to consider the future of Crimea. Before the outbreak of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowed to take back control of Crimea – and in the wake of the invasion, Zelenskyy has recommitted to that goal.

With the backing of NATO countries, Zelenskyy now has little to lose and plenty of ammunition and weapons to go on the offensive against Russia.

If Zelenskyy succeeds, Russia’s work establishing the land bridge will have all been for nothing.

Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.

Written By

Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. speedster

    May 23, 2022 at 8:11 am

    I just read an interesting article regarding Russian demographics, which was published before the February 2022 invasion. The number of russians in the early 20’s halved in the 1990’s, which means a major contraction in Russia’s population is underway. The article indicated that to carry out an invasion, would be an act of desperation before the russian population plummets. The ironic thing is that the age group dying in Ukraine is the group that would be expected to have future children. So Putin is exacerbating a population problem with the invasion.

    It is thought that Putin has already expressed reservations about the Russian demographic contraction, however if he was thinking that large numbers of Ukrainians would turn round and become mother Russia believers, then he is wrong.

    The Crimea Donbass, highway, could just as easily become a vulnerable stretch of land it unlike the failed allied landing at Anzio, in Italy during world war 2.

  2. Jacksonian Libertarian

    May 23, 2022 at 11:43 am

    Nothing is decided while the war still rages.
    Russia has expended 1/3 of its combat power with little to show for it.
    While Ukraine’s military has expanded from 200k to 700k troops, armed with 1st world weapons.
    Russia’s ability to hang on to any of the territory it has taken from Ukraine is in serious doubt.

  3. Stefan Stackhouse

    May 23, 2022 at 4:15 pm

    With all due respect, if Zelenskyy thinks he has nothing to lose, he needs to get out and look around. That city he is in could indeed be lost to a mushroom cloud. The Russians consider Crimea to be integral Russian territory. I would consider it not just possible but highly probable that the Russians (and not just Putin) would unleash their nukes rather than letting Crimea fall.

  4. Celestine

    May 29, 2022 at 6:45 am

    You are funny. Do you believe Ukraine can win or are you dreaming. Nato is wicked. USA and UK need alliances to survive. Seriously Zelenskyy is confused. The west is using Zelenskyy and Ukraine.

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