Stories keep popping up about this peninsula that controls access into the Dnipro river, South Bug river, and Kherson. Stories about Ukraine working to liberate it. Thought I’d take a look at the 3D map. The thing is, this is Kherson and there is almost no elevation to speak of (this could seriously be a 2D map, but it is true to scale).
The north shore, on the left of the above photo, is only 40 m above sea level (the Black sea) whereas the whole Kinburn peninsula is only a few metres above sea level, at best. Most of it is marsh and sand. All the same, Russia apparently was using it to launch drones and base tube artillery to hit north into Mykolaiv and West towards Odessa, so clearing it of that alone would be useful.
As well, there are three towns — that are just collections of small houses — that Ukraine wants to liberate. These are only 8 km across the gulf, or a 40 minute boat ride.
What’s wild, is that the whole peninsula is basically a biosphere reserve or National Park and thus there is not a lot of roads. Most of what there is are rough sand tracks. Apparently it would take 2 hours to drive the main road’s 30 kms with a 4x4 (ref: www.youtube.com/… — this guy is from Mykolaiv and has driven that road in peacetime). So that means supplying the farthest town on the spit is actually faster by boat than driving to it from the mainland.
Another point is that the single road that is passible, runs right along the north shore, which is in full fire control of the Ukrainian artillery. This is where that minimal 40m elevation might come in handy, as they can watch that road 8 km away with that slight elevation (which would otherwise be hidden by the curve of the earth), and be able to hit any vehicles on that slow, exposed, road. Here’s the road and the coverage of NATO 155mm Howitzers based in Stanislav:
That entire road is covered for the full 30 km.
The Russians have moved back, and apparently their closest tube artillery is in Chulakivka. This is the firing range for their standard D20 152mm howitzer:
Meaning most of the peninsula is out of range. They have dug trench fortifications at the chokepoint of the peninsula, which is 4 km across (yellow bar in above graphic).
So, why attack this piece of land?
It only has one road, so it would be hard to get out in any kind of force. The Russians have mostly pulled back. And it would be hard to supply.
Some of the references below suggest that liberating those small towns would be good in and of itself. Denying the area to SOF and drone launches is also a solid reason.
And I imagine just having a presence — even if small scale harassment or recon — would be enough to keep the Russians looking over their shoulder and force them to fix troops.
The Ukrainians certainly would have enough boats (from along the coast or larger river barges from Mykolaiv) to run supplies for small units.
But I wonder if there isn’t another angle that I haven’t read about anywhere. Which is that when it is time to really press down into Crimea, the Ukrainians would face the narrow land bridge heavily fortified at the chokepoint at Armiansk. And Ukraine would want to flank that — go around it basically — in order to neutralize it. And for that they would need some semblance of coastal amphibious capabilities. The Kinburn spit and peninsula may just be the perfect place to trial that kind of operation — reputably one of the hardest to get right, with force placement, enablement, and supply — right off the doorstep so that when it comes time to land on a similar stretch of shoreline and cutoff Armiansk, it isn’t the first time.
For the graphics of the artillery, I used the trajectory vertex height (TVH): for a 155mm gun at max range; the shell will clear 30,000 feet/10,000 metres. I am not an expert so this could be wrong on the diagrams.
Some better analysis than mine: