Length of Front Line Trace in Ukraine

Correctly determining the length of the front line can be painstaking and time consuming if you track all the twists and turns in a front line. I am not going to do that, but instead calculate the distance of the front line based on rough point-to-point measurements using the measuring stick in Google earth. Feel free to tweet me a more precise measurement.

Starting north from the Russian border down to Troitske is little less than 6 miles (10 kilometers). The Russian defensive line then runs from Troitske (pop. 7,241) for 36 miles (57 kilometers) due south to Svatove (pop. 16,420) and then for 27 miles (43 kilometers) down to Kreminna (pop. 18,417). This line is at least 69 miles (111 kilometers) in length.

From Kreminna down to Bilohorovka is another 8 or so miles (13 kilometers) and from Bilohorovka to Bakhmut is 25 miles (40 kilometers) and from Bakhmut to Avdivka is 34 miles (55 kilometers) and from Avdivka to Marinka is 17 miles (27 kilometers). The distance from Marinka to Pavlivka is around 19 miles (31 kilometers). This makes this stretch some 103 miles (166 kilometers). It is probably a little longer than that due to all the twists and turns.

The front line then turns west and runs to just north of Vasylivka, for at least 89 miles (143 kilometers).

Lastly is the section of the line protected by water obstacles. This is about 120 miles (193 kilometers) protected by the Kakhovka Reservoir and then some 60 miles (97 kilometers) of its length protected by the Dnipro River. At that point we are at the Dniprovska Gulf, and there is a spit of land on the opposite side that stretches for 36 miles (58 kilometers). We are not going to consider that spit of land to be part of the front line.

So, I have the entire front line being 69 + 103 + 89 + 120 + 60 = 441 miles (710 kilometers). The actual real line is probably longer, maybe up to 25% longer counting every twist and turn (please someone have at it). The 120-mile stretch across the Kakhovka Reservoir probably does not need to be seriously defended, maybe a few AA batteries and some mobile forces. So, in all reality the front line that needs to be seriously defended is 321 miles (517 kilometers).

Now, Ukraine actually has to defend more than that. Because Russia can choose to initiate an attack across the border into northeastern of northern Ukraine at any time from Russia and Belarussia. So, Ukraine obviously has to hold defensive forces around Kharkov, Sumy, Chernigov, Kiev, etc. The requirement is really not the same for the Russians. I do not think we will see a Ukrainian drive on Kursk.

 

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Christopher A. Lawrence
Christopher A. Lawrence

Christopher A. Lawrence is a professional historian and military analyst. He is the Executive Director and President of The Dupuy Institute, an organization dedicated to scholarly research and objective analysis of historical data related to armed conflict and the resolution of armed conflict. The Dupuy Institute provides independent, historically-based analyses of lessons learned from modern military experience.
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Mr. Lawrence was the program manager for the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base, the Kursk Data Base, the Modern Insurgency Spread Sheets and for a number of other smaller combat data bases. He has participated in casualty estimation studies (including estimates for Bosnia and Iraq) and studies of air campaign modeling, enemy prisoner of war capture rates, medium weight armor, urban warfare, situational awareness, counterinsurgency and other subjects for the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, the Joint Staff and the U.S. Air Force. He has also directed a number of studies related to the military impact of banning antipersonnel mines for the Joint Staff, Los Alamos National Laboratories and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation.
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His published works include papers and monographs for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation, in addition to over 40 articles written for limited-distribution newsletters and over 60 analytical reports prepared for the Defense Department. He is the author of Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka (Aberdeen Books, Sheridan, CO., 2015), America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam (Casemate Publishers, Philadelphia & Oxford, 2015), War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat (Potomac Books, Lincoln, NE., 2017) , The Battle of Prokhorovka (Stackpole Books, Guilford, CT., 2019), The Battle for Kyiv (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2023), Aces at Kursk (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024), Hunting Falcon: The Story of WWI German Ace Hans-Joachim Buddecke (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024) and The Siege of Mariupol (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2024).
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Mr. Lawrence lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

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7 Comments

  1. To trace a frontline, I import a representative map or estimate into Adobe Illustrator. Using a pen tool and one of the line trace functions (depends on which version you have), AI can calculate the length of your line even with curvature. You then scale that against the map scale and you can get the frontline length.

  2. It seems to me that the more tactically mobile are the defending forces of Ukraine then the more reasonable is the point to point measurement of the frontline. Even if some of the front resembles the trench-lined Western Front of The Great War, point-to-point measurements seem reasonable if being used to assess the size/strength of a force needed to defend a sector of the front against invasion (including against airborne invasion, which brings up the issue of the depth of a frontline sector in need of defense). In addition to rivers and reservoirs, are there other terrain features along the frontline (and within the defended sectors) to be considered?

    Chris, what was your reason for measuring the frontline?

    It seems to me that the fallback defense for Ukraine (from which offensive operations could be launched to destroy invasion forces and from which to eventually reclaim invaded territory), if it isn’t politically necessary to be seen as immediately defending much more of Ukraine, would be to have Command A (just a fictitious name for a force suitable for forest warfare and suitable for being supplied from a major motorway) defending a frontline established just north of M07 (running eastward from the border with Poland to the city of Kiev), Command B (a force suitable for city warfare) defending Kiev, Command C (a force suitable for steppe warfare) defending a frontline consisting of the Dnieper River (running roughly southward from Kiev to the Black Sea), Command D (a force suitable for coastline warfare) defending the coastline from the Inhul River roughly westward to the Dnister River and Command E (a force suitable for coastline warfare) defending the coastline from the Dnister River roughly southward to the border with Romania.

    • Fitting (pun intended) with the insightful contributions from Stiltzkin and Tom Peters, measuring straight-line frontlines along with measuring curves approximating parts of terrain-based frontlines such as rivers and other defensive features (possibly including the depth of those features and the depth of supporting areas behind the lines) makes sense if interested in recommending military strength needed by a given defensive command.

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