Population centers were once built with defense as a top priority

Friday, December 22nd, 2023

As part of Kyiv’s reconstruction effort, city administrators and government officials should consider modifications to bolster the city’s defenses:

Had the Ukrainian government constructed the dam in a way that would have allowed it to control the flooding, the Ukrainian military could have accomplished the same objective — impede the Russian advance —without destroying the dam and causing as much collateral damage to the surrounding communities. By contrast, when the Ukrainian government flooded the Teterev and Zdvyzh rivers, they controlled the flooding without damaging the dams. When the Ukrainian government rebuilds the Kozarovychi dam, it would be prudent to do so in a way that allows it to flood the Irpin without damaging the dam.

Likewise, many of the bridges that the Ukrainians destroyed will have to be completely rebuilt because the structural integrity of the remaining portions is compromised. However, it is possible to construct bridges in a way that makes it easy to destroy a portion without damaging the columns or piers. Bridges built in such a manner would be cheaper and faster to repair, thus allowing commerce and livelihoods to return to normal more quickly.

City planners should also consider building a system of modern moats, giant cement irrigation ditches that serve two purposes: giant cement irrigation ditches that could also serve as obstacles in times of war. These manmade riverways also serve the valuable purpose of helping to prevent flooding during times of heavy rain, which only seem to be becoming more common with climate change. Some cities already have these, but they are not designed with defense in mind, so vehicles can easily cross them. If, however, they were built with a nearly vertical angle, vehicles would be unable to cross, and these ditches would become “urban moats” or, in military parlance, tank ditches.


An apartment building along a key avenue of approach in the city’s periphery could be built in such a way that it could serve as a strongpoint. Take, for example, Jerusalem, where Israel built dual-purpose apartment buildings that not only were homes but also served as strongpoints at the dividing line with East Jerusalem. The apartment buildings were built with reinforced concrete and had walls around their exteriors with few openings and narrow slit windows with special drainage features to facilitate rifle, machine gun, and sniper firing positions. The reserve forces of the city were assigned buildings and even specific floors to man if conflict erupted.


While officials in Kyiv mapped the available bunkers after the full-scale invasion, many were deemed unusable or unsatisfactory. As a result, many residents were forced to find impromptu underground shelters during Russian air raids. With sufficient planning, however, Kyiv could have developed, and can now develop, infrastructure to shield its civilian population beyond existing subway tunnels. They could produce dedicated air raid shelters, something that Sweden did from 1938 until 2002. It is important to remember that any physical structure — be it an air raid shelter or a concrete riverbed — must be maintained. Reports show that thousands of Sweden’s 65,000 air raid shelters are not serviceable, and the status of tens of thousands more is unknown because they have not been inspected in over a decade.


Population centers were once built with defense as a top priority. Recent history has shown that leaving a city’s defense to its nation’s borders is a dangerous proposition. It is time that Kyiv, and other cities in nations that border expansionist neighbors, once again make the defense part of city planning.


  1. VXXC says:

    Ah, History has returned.
    We missed you.
    Yes, you did too.
    Don’t doubt it for a moment.

    Life is ephemeral.
    The Degradation of the Last Men was an ETERNITY.

  2. Jim says:

    I’ll believe it when I see it in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

  3. Michael van der Riet says:

    That’s right, make the cities so invulnerable that they’re a. unaffordable and b. uninhabitable. First rule of defence: never make your strongpoint so impossible for the enemy to get into that it’s impossible for you to get out of. Maginot Line?

  4. McChuck says:

    People stopped wasting their time fortifying cities when effective artillery was invented. Artillery and air power are much more effective now.

    Tank ditches are dealt with by using bulldozers to push dirt into them, making ramps if the obstacle is wide enough.

    A modern siege would begin with cutting electricity, gas, and water supplies.

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