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The Landing at Azovske
The War in Ukraine (2014-2023)
There are, on the eastern coast of the United States, at least four towns called “Ocean City.”1 Likewise, maps of the northern shore of the Sea of Azov show at least thee towns called “Azovske.” One of these is located in Crimea, the other on the mainland near Crimea, and the third just west of the port city of Berdiyansk.
In the last week of February of 2022, the latter fact presented me with a conundrum. When I read a Tass report about the “ship-to-objective maneuver” that began at “Azovske” and ended in Melitipol, I was not sure which “Azovske” served as the location for the initial landing of the Russian Marines.2
At first, I thought that the Azovske in question was the neighbor of Berdiyansk. The chief reason for this presumption was a piece in the Maritime Executive that combined mention of Russian landing operations with an impending attack on Mariupol. Upon reflection, however, it occurred to me that the most likely destinations for Marines landed in the vicinity of Berdiyansk lay to the east, and not the west.
I therefore took a closer look at another Azovske, the one located just north of the Arabat Arrow, a long barrier island that covers most of the east coast of the Crimean Peninsula. This feature, which reminds me of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, provides a a third overland route between Crimea and the mainland of Ukraine. (Of the other two, one runs through the isthmus on the northwest corner of Crimea, while the other, to the east, depends on a man-made bridge.)
A column of vehicles moving, single file, along Arabat Arrow would be vulnerable to interdiction along the entire hundred-and-ten kilometers of that route. The place of greatest danger for such a column, however, would be the bridge that connects the barrier island to the mainland. Because of this, the Russian soldiers at the head of this column would be very happy to see that the ground on the north side of the bridge was occupied by friendly troops.
With this in mind, I suspect that the Azovske that served as the location for the landing of the Russian Marines who ended up in Melitopol was the one near the northern end of the Arabat Arrow, and not the one just west of Berdyansk.
Of course, a descent (to use the Jominian expression) at one Azovske does not preclude the debarkation of troops at another. After all, there were lots of Russian LSTs in the Sea of Azov in the last week of February of 2022.
Pace, Gentle Readers of the West Coast persuasion, I am, indeed, aware of the existence of Ocean City, Washington.
Readers familiar with the background of Your Humble Correspondent will not be surprised that this old Cold Warrior made liberal use of his salt shaker while reading a tale told by Tass. However, while I doubt that the reception of the Russian Marines in Melitopol was as joyous as described, I can think of no reason for dissimulation where mention of the landing place was concerned.