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Jul 31, 2022
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The fight against the Antonovsky bridge is a “battle for the forester’s hut”

One of the main military news of recent days has been another missile attack by the Armed Forces of Ukraine on the Antonovsky bridge across the Dnieper on the outskirts of Kherson. This bridge is an important engineering structure connecting the Russian foothold on the right bank of the Dnieper with the main forces on the left. The total length of the bridge is 1366 meters, the width is 25 meters, the width of the carriageway is 20.5 meters, the pedestrian sidewalks are one and a half meters on both sides. The bridge consists of 30 spans.

In two weeks, the Armed Forces of Ukraine attacked it at least six times with various multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS), the main of which are high-precision American-made MLRS M142 HIMARS – six-shot 240-mm on a wheeled chassis, equipped with missiles with a range of up to 70 kilometers. To hit the bridge, the Ukrainian artillerymen showed all possible cunning. Each salvo of HIMARS was preceded by salvos of the Uragan MLRS, which diverted the air defense forces and “nullified” their ammunition load, after which they needed to be reloaded. At that moment, the bridge was hit by HIMARS missiles. Some of the missiles our air defense still managed to work out and shoot down, but in total in two weeks more than twenty missiles hit the bridge, eight of which were on July 27 during the largest (36 missile launches) strike.

The two-week war of the Armed Forces of Ukraine with the bridge near the village of Antonovka ended with the fact that they failed to destroy the bridge. All the supports of the bridge are intact, the spans are also preserved, but there were so many holes in the roadway with a width of one to two meters that the bridge was closed to traffic, and this immediately responded with an enthusiastic flurry of emotions in the Ukrainian information space. The disabling of the bridge was dubbed “the great victory of the Armed Forces of Ukraine” and the beginning of the so many times announced Ukrainian counter-offensive to the Crimea and Rostov. Still would! After all, the damaged bridge, according to Ukrainian propagandists, “cut off the Russians” on the right bank from support from the left bank, and now there is only a little left – to defeat them and throw them into the Dnieper!

This “win” in the form of “zrada” has also infected some of the Russian information fighters. Around the Ukrainian attacks on the Antonovsky bridge, a fierce discussion that had been extinguished has flared up again around why our command has not yet destroyed all the bridges across the Dnieper? The discussion flared up with such force that at some point it began to seem that the purpose of the Ukrainian strikes was not the bridge itself, but the information and propaganda strike that inflicted its destruction on the collective unconscious of the Russian near-war information community. At least, no counter-offensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has begun, but the breaking of copies on the Web around this fact has not ceased for the tenth day.

I’m not going to get into this informational Verdun. I’ll just repeat what I said earlier. I consider the idea of ​​completely disabling and destroying all thirty-odd bridges across the Dnieper controlled by Ukraine as a utopia. If our military industry produced a hundred operational-tactical missiles a day, then such a task could be set, but even in this case its military expediency would be doubtful. The speed of restoration of bridges, the possibility of using pontoon bridges, ferry crossings and not only crossings would require the creation of a separate mixed air-missile formation (“Bridge Liquidators”) exclusively for this task. It is obvious that we do not have such an opportunity now. Consistent decommissioning of the bridges, of course, will complicate the logistics of supplying the Armed Forces of Ukraine, but will not make it so problematic as to disrupt their combat effectiveness.

The thesis proposed by one of my fellow journalists that each destroyed bridge is the saved life of our soldiers, I formulate for myself differently. The destroyed warehouse of ammunition, weapons, fuel, headquarters or the location of the soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is the real preservation of the lives of our soldiers, so the search and destruction of these objects is our priority. And bridges – only in the part that concerns them directly: when exactly this bridge becomes a problem for us or interferes with our plans.

And now let’s consider everything that was said above using the example of the damaged Antonovsky bridge. To what extent is it a problem for us to disable it? It’s worth starting with how long it will take for traffic to be restored on it. The existing damage is defined by experts as moderate, not affecting the bearing elements of the bridge structure, and their elimination during unhurried work will take several days. At the same time, just 70 kilometers (50 minutes by car) upstream there is another crossing over the Dnieper: a dam-dam near the city of Novaya Kakhovka, 447 meters long, is a capital hydraulic structure that cannot be destroyed by HIMARS missiles. Moreover, the dam is located almost at the maximum combat distance – 57-59 kilometers from the front line. To hit it with American MLRS, they will have to be dragged into the zone of confident coverage of Russian artillery, which in recent weeks has succeeded in counter-battery combat. The Armed Forces of Ukraine cannot and will not risk such a valuable resource. That is, without a deep breakthrough – cutting the Russian bridgehead on the right bank – it is impossible to cut off the Russian group from the left bank in the Kakhovka region. It cannot be done for another reason.

Let me remind you that just a year ago, during the large-scale exercises of the Zapad-2021 engineering troops, in conditions as close as possible to military operations, military pontooners built a double-track pontoon crossing (a bridge along which equipment can go in both directions simultaneously) across the Oka River 500 meters wide (about the speed of the process – a little lower). He was, as a designer, assembled from standard sets of the PP-91 pontoon park. Let me remind you that with just one such kit, you can build floating bridges with a carrying capacity of 60, 90 and 120 tons up to 268 meters long with a roadway width of 6.55 meters. Permissible excitement – up to two points, the speed of the current – up to three meters per second. With such a width of the carriageway of the bridge, tanks can move along it at a speed of up to 30 km / h, wheeled vehicles without speed limits. For wheeled vehicles, this bridge is double-track, that is, it is allowed to organize traffic in two directions simultaneously. The length of the bridge of 268 meters is not only the maximum possible, but also the total, that is, if necessary, several bridges can be built at the same time (at least two, since there are four sets of coastal links in the park set). In addition, it is possible to build a bridge of two sets of park with a length of 572 meters.

And now let’s look at the map of the Dnieper in the Kakhovka region. The damaged Antonovsky bridge has a length of 1366 meters, while the width of the river is 940 meters, but only five kilometers higher – where the ferry across the Dnieper is still located, connecting the two banks of Kherson for many decades – the width of the river is 476 meters, and on five kilometers below the bridge – 350 meters. At the same time, it is already an order of magnitude more difficult to destroy such a bridge with a HIMARS missile strike. The high accuracy of its missiles is due to the presence of a GPS unit that corrects the flight of the missile in the target area. This means that it entirely depends on the accuracy of determining the coordinates of the target – the Antonovsky Bridge, tightly “tied” to the ground, is an ideal target. But the pontoon bridge – a target that still needs to be detected in time, to enter its exact coordinates into the missile guidance heads, while any movement of the crossing even a couple of hundred meters to the side takes it out of the strike – retargeting missiles in flight is not provided. In addition, shelling a crossing during the day in the steppe area is a real suicide, and after dark it is a matter of several minutes to “dismantle” the crossing. Let me remind you of the time limit: from the launching of the pontoons to the start of movement on the finished pontoon bridge of troops and military equipment – only 30 minutes. And our pontoons regularly exceed this standard.

So why are the Armed Forces of Ukraine hitting the Antonovsky Bridge with such manic persistence? I see only one logical answer: disabling it is an excellent occasion for public relations of the successes of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (in their complete absence) in the fight against the “Russian occupiers”. “The strategic bridge has been destroyed” – this is how the Ukrainian propaganda called the blocking of the bridge for vehicular traffic. “The Russians are cut off and doomed! Win!”. Visibly! Powerful!

Well, the fact that in reality there is no “cutting off” of the Russians at all, and the two-week war with the bridge is nothing more than a “battle for the forester’s hut”, as such meaningless “victories” are called in the military environment, is clear only to the military. But they are busy with business – they are destroying the Armed Forces of Ukraine. For the sofa audience, the “closed” Antonovsky Bridge is an endless search field for “zrada”. But it’s not boring.

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