KIEV – There have been many turning points in the course of the Russian-Ukrainian war in about a year and a half, perhaps the latest of which is the Ukrainian focus on targeting logistical sites, military bases, ports, Russian ships and others with bombing, whether in Crimea or in the Black Sea in the south.
Crimea's share of Ukrainian bombardment sometimes exceeds that of the fronts of "counter-operations" in the east and southeast of the country, at an almost daily constant pace, and the quantities of drones and missiles sometimes exceed the amount launched by Russia.
The beginning of the shift was with Russia's withdrawal from the "grain agreement" across the sea, its daily bombardment of Ukraine's ports in the Odessa region, with the threat of targeting all ships bound for it, and then a similarly explicit Ukrainian threat, promising that "Russia will lose its fleet ships at sea."
According to military expert Oleksiy Hetman, "Russia's withdrawal from the agreement and its bombing was the last episode of the biggest problem facing Ukraine in months, and this coincided with the development and increase of the production of Ukrainian offensive drones, capable of threatening distant sites by air and sea."
Hetman explained – in an interview with Al Jazeera Net – that "Crimea and Russia's fleet were the largest source of cruise missiles launched at Ukraine since the beginning of the war," adding, "Kiev was not able to change this equation in its favor, only recently, by obtaining missiles "Storm Shadow" British, and then start using effective homemade drones at the forefront of the scene. "
"We'll turn it into an island"
Ukrainians almost unanimously agree that the threat to Russia's presence in Crimea and the sea would be more painful for Moscow, greater impact on the course of the war, and a "cover" for the faltering of Ukrainian counter-operations on the eastern fronts.
"The bombing of the Zhonhar Bridge and the railway contract in the city of Jankoy (north of Crimea) complicated the Russians' supply operations, leaving only the Kerch Bridge that connects the territory of Russia to Crimea (Crimean Bridge), and I think it will be targeted again in the coming days as well," Hetman said.
"We will turn Crimea from a peninsula into an isolated island, and (the enemy) will still have limited air and sea logistics routes, which are also threatened," he said.
Russia's weakening in Tavria
Indeed, experts link the targeting of Crimea to the Tavria fronts, which include the southern provinces of Zaporizhia and Kherson, but some have so far downplayed the impact of those attacks.
"The counterattack in the south on hitting targets in Crimea comes because we need to undermine logistics from the peninsula to the city of Militopol (in Zaporizhye) and beyond," says the head of the Center for Military Legal Studies Oleksandr Musenko.
But he pointed out – in an interview with Al Jazeera Net – that the severe blows and damage to the railways create problems and additional burdens on the Russians, but they are not yet critical, and have not cut off all the roads leading to Crimea; the transport is continuous, but in smaller and smaller volumes.
Right of Ukraine to navigation
In a related context, experts believe that one of the priorities of Ukraine, which is behind this escalation, is to assert its navigational rights in the Black Sea.
Military expert and former spokesman for the Ukrainian forces Vladislav Seleznyov believes that "by attacking Russian ships in the Black Sea, Ukraine declares to uphold its rights to ensure the safety of navigation."
"It doesn't matter if the fuel is transported to the army in Crimea or in Syria; Ukraine has shown the whole world that it has at least a plan against the (enemy) fleet," he told Al Jazeera Net.
"While NATO countries such as Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey are thinking about how to respond to Russia's attempts to turn the Black Sea into an inland sea, Ukraine is now stranding Russian ships in the bays," he said.
What are the options of Russia?
If Ukrainian views are converged on the goals and importance of targeting Crimea and ships, they diverge when Russia's reactions and expected choices stop.
With great optimism, military expert Oleksiy Hetman says, "The Kremlin and its collaborators in the south understand very well that they are doomed to failure soon, the Russians will have 3 options: either flee before it is too late, or wait and surrender, and if they do not want to there is their destruction simply by our armed forces."
But former soldier and head of the "Come Back alive" prisoner organization Taras Chamot said: "In addition to the lack of weapons and ammunition and the absence of advanced aviation, which is the most prominent tool of warfare, we must admit that we have a lack of experienced forces."
"After a long preparation, our counter-operations have collided with strong defensive lines and extensive minefields. Optimism in Crimea and the sea is premature, it is ultimately a broad new front, and the crazy Russian reactions must be taken into account."