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Dnieper(nē`pər), Belarusian Dnyapro, Rus. Dnepr, Ukr. Dnipro, river, c.1,430 mi (2,300 km) long, in Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. One of the longest rivers in Europe, it rises in the Valdai Hills, W of Moscow. It flows generally S past Smolensk, through Belarus, past Mogilev, then through Ukraine, past Kiev, Cherkasy, Kremenchuk, Dnipro (Dnipropetrovsk), Zaporizhzhya (site of the DniprohesDniprohes
[Ukr. abbr.,=Dnieper hydroelectric station], Rus. Dneproges, a hydroelectric station, central Ukraine, on the Dnieper River near Zaporizhzhya. The hydroelectric station supplies power for the industrial centers of Dnipro (Dnipropetrovsk), Kryvyy Rih, and
..... Click the link for more information. dam), Nikopol, and Kherson into the Black Sea. Between Kremenchuk and Nikopol the Dnieper makes a vast bend to the east. It is the main river of Ukraine. Since the construction (1932) of the Dniprohes dam the Dnieper is navigable for virtually its entire course. Its tributaries include the Berezina, the Pripyat, and the Inhulets from the west and the Sozh, the Desna, the Orel, and the Samara from the east. The Dnieper is linked by canal with the Western Bug. Known as Borysthenes to the ancients, the river was (9th–11th cent.) a commercial route for the Vikings, Slavs, and Byzantines.
a river in the European USSR, second in length and basin area to the Volga. Length, 2,200 km (until the construction of reservoirs, 2,285 km); basin area, 504,000 sq km. The Dnieper’s source is in the Valdai Upland. The river flows through the territory of the RSFSR (485 km), the Byelorussian SSR (595 km and 115 km along the latter’s boundary with the Ukrainian SSR), and through the Ukrainian SSR to its mouth, where it empties into the Dnieper Liman of the Black Sea.
Physical geography. The Dnieper is divided into three parts: the upper reaches, from its source to Kiev (1,320 km); the middle reaches, from Kiev to Zaporozh’e (555 km); and the lower reaches, from Zaporozh’e to its mouth (325 km). The upper reaches lie in a region of excessive and sufficient moisture (forest zone), the middle reaches in a region of variable moisture (forest-steppe and steppe zones), and the lower reaches in a region of inadequate moisture (steppe zone). In its upper reaches (from its source to the city of Dorogobuzh) the Dnieper flows between low-lying, partly swamped banks that are covered primarily with pine forests and in some places with birch and spruce forests. Lower in its course (up to the city of Shklov), it flows through a hilly area, where its valley is narrow (0.5-1 km) and there is no floodplain in some places. The Kobeliaku rapids are located just above the city of Orsha. In the Mogilev-Kiev section the river valley widens, and the floodplain reaches a width of 14 km and is usually covered with flood meadows, thickets, and pine and broad-leaved forests. In its upper reaches the Dnieper is joined by the Drut’, Berezina, and Pripiat’ from the right and the Sozh and Desna from the left.
In almost the entire middle reaches of the river the valley is wide (6-18 km) and is characterized by ancient terraces, especially along the left bank. The right bank is elevated and drops abruptly toward the river. The middle and lower reaches of the Dnieper (from the mouth of the Pripiat’ to Kakhovka) consist of a chain of reservoirs (the Kiev, Kremenchug, Dneprodzerzhinsk, Dnieper, and Kakhovka reservoirs). Only below the city of Dneprodzerzhinsk has a small section of the natural riverbed been preserved. In its middle reaches the Dnieper is joined by the Sula, Psel, Vorskla, and Samara from the left and by the Ros’ from the right. In its lower reaches the Dnieper flows through steppes in the Black Sea lowland, where the Bazavluk and the Ingulets discharge from the right and the Konka from the left.
The Dnieper is fed by a variety of sources. The main part of the stream is formed above the city of Kiev. The chief source of replenishment is meltwater, which accounts for 50 percent of the river’s replenishment in its upper reaches, while groundwater accounts for 27 percent and rain water, more than 23 percent. Downstream the role of meltwater increases and that of rain water decreases. At Kiev the average discharge is 1,370 cu m per sec. The average annual flow at the mouth is 53 cu m (in a wet year, 73 cu km and in a dry year, 24 cu km). The average discharge at the mouth is 1,670 cu m per sec. During the spring high-water period, 60-70 percent and sometimes 80 percent of the annual runoff occurs. In the summer there is a low-water period, and in the autumn (when rains fall) and winter (during thaws) there are floods. The Dnieper freezes in December; the average thaw times are early April for the upper Dnieper, mid-March for the middle reaches, and early March for the lower reaches.
The Dnieper and its tributaries are the principal waterways of the Byelorussian SSR and Ukrainian SSR. The river is navigable from the mouth to Dorogobuzh (1,990 km). The chief wharfs and ports are Mogilev, Rogachev, Zhlobin, Kiev, Kanev, Cherkassy, Kremenchug, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporozh’e, Nikopol’, and Kherson. Artificial waterways connect the Dnieper with the rivers of the Baltic Sea basin. The river is linked with the Zapadnaia Dvina by the Berezina system, with the Neman by the Dnieper-Neman system, and with the Bug by the Dnieper-Bug system. As of 1971, the Kiev, Kremenchug, Dneprodzerzhinsk, Dnieper, and Kakhovka hydroelectric power plants had been built on the river, and the Kanev Hydroelectric Plant was under construction. The Dnieper-Krivoi Rog Canal and the Northern Crimean Canal originate in the Kakhovka Reservoir.
History. Even in antiquity the Dnieper was an important trade route, linking the Baltic and Black Sea regions, and there was trade along the river with the ancient Black Sea colonies. With the invasions by nomads (Huns and Bulgars), the Dnieper’s importance as a trade route diminished somewhat. However, as the Slavic Old Russian state took shape in the seventh century, the river’s commercial importance began to rise again. Major cities were founded on the Dnieper, including Kiev, Smolensk, Chernigov, Pereiaslav, Liubech, and Vyshgorod. As a result of the Mongol-Tatar invasion, there was a mass flux of population from the central Dnieper region to the north and northeast. In the 14th through the 16th century the Dnieper retained its commercial importance only in its upper reaches and in part of its middle reaches. In the 16th century a cossack community—the Zaporozhskaia Sech’ (a self-governing Ukrainian cossack organization)—was established below the rapids on the Dnieper.
The central Dnieper region began to be more active in economic circulation at the time of the weakening of the Crimean Khanate. In the 18th century the annexation of the southern Ukraine and the Crimea by Russia restored the role of the Dnieper as a major trade route linking Russia with the Black Sea and led to the rapid colonization of the territory along the river. The development of industry in the 19th century in such cities as Ekaterinoslav determined the further growth of the Dnieper’s value, although rapids hampered the continuous movement of vessels along the river.
During the Soviet-Polish War in April-May 1920 and the struggle against Wrangel’s troops (August 1920) important battles were fought on the Dnieper. During the period of socialist construction the rapids on the Dnieper were blown up, and in 1932 the Dnieper Hydroelectric Power Plant was completed, which made possible an enormous increase in the Dnieper’s role in the country’s economy. During the Great Patriotic War (1941-45) major combat operations occurred in 1941 and especially in 1943 on the Dnieper, which was an important strategic frontier.
The battle for the Dnieper, 1943. In 1943 one of the most important battles of the Great Patriotic War (1941-45) unfolded on the Dnieper. The battle was divided into two phases: the first lasted from August to September 1943 and the second from October to December 1943.
Already during the battle of Kursk of 1943 the Supreme Command set the task for the troops of the Central Front (Army General K. K. Rokossovskii), Voronezh Front (Army General N. F. Vatutin), Steppe Front (Army General I. S. Konev), Southwestern Front (Army General R. la. Malinovskii) and Southern Front (Colonel General, then Army General F. I. Tolbukhin). They were to rout the main enemy forces on the southern wing of the Soviet-German front, liberate the Left-bank Ukraine, approach the Dnieper, and capture the bridgeheads on its right bank between Zhlobin and Kherson. After its offensive near Kursk failed, the fascist German command calculated that a sustained defensive would stop the offensive by Soviet troops on the line from Velizh through Dorogobuzh, Briansk and Sumy to the Severskii Donets and Mius rivers. At the same time, on orders from Hitler dated August 11, construction of a strategic defensive frontier was begun—the so-called Eastern Rampart— along a line from the Narva River through Pskov, Vitebsk, Orsha, the Sozh River, and the middle reaches of the Dnieper to the Molochnaia River. With its high, steep right bank, the Dnieper made up the main part of the Eastern Rampart.
At the beginning of the battle for the Dnieper in the southwestern strategic axis, Soviet troops faced a strong enemy grouping, consisting of the Second Army from the Central Army Group, the Fourth Tank Army, the Eighth Army, the First Tank Army, and the Sixth Army of the Southern Army Group (Field Marshal E. Manstein)—a total of 1,240,000 men, 12,600 guns and infantry mortars, about 2,100 tanks and assault guns, and up to 2,000 planes. Soviet troops numbered 2,633,000 men, and there were more than 51,200 guns and infantry mortars, more than 2,400 tanks and self-propelled artillery installations, and 2,850 planes. The battle for the Dnieper began at different times in various operational axes and consisted of a number of operations of fronts and groups of fronts that were united by a common objective.
On August 26 the troops of the Central Front launched an offensive, directing their main thrust at Sevsk and Novgorod-Severskii. The enemy offered sustained resistance. The greatest success was achieved in a secondary axis by the troops of the Sixtieth Army, who moved up to 60 km south of Sevsk and launched an offensive toward Nezhin. The fascist German troops who had been on the defensive at the Voronezh Front began to pull back of the Akhtyrka bulge on the night of August 24-25. The troops of the Voronezh Front captured Akhtyrka on August 25 and launched an offensive toward Poltava and Kremenchug. After liberating Kharkov on August 23, the troops of the Steppe Front fought in areas west and southwest of the city until the end of August and, after breaking the enemy’s resistance, continued the offensive on Krasnograd and Verkhnedneprovsk.
The offensive of the troops of the Southwestern Front in the Donbas, which began on August 13-16, developed slowly. However, it held back large enemy forces and contributed to a breakthrough in the enemy defense on the Mius River by troops of the Southern Front, which went over to the offensive on August 18 and liberated Taganrog on August 30, forcing the fascist German troops to begin pulling out part of their forces from the Donbas to the west on September 1. In these conditions the Supreme Command decided to concentrate the main troop efforts in the Kiev and Kremenchug operational axes.
In early September the offensive unfolded throughout the Left-bank Ukraine. Lacking the forces to check the onslaught of Soviet troops, the fascist German command decided on a general withdrawal to the Dnieper, using scorched earth tactics. Soviet troops relentlessly pursued the enemy, and partisans organized an active struggle at the rear of the enemy. Developing an offensive, the troops of the Central Front crossed the Desna River, advanced to the Dnieper at the mouth of the Pripiat’, and crossed the Dnieper on the night of September 20-21 with units of the Thirteenth Army. By the end of September 21 troops of the Voronezh Front had reached the Dnieper in the vicinity of Velikii Bukrin and crossed it with units of the Third Guard Tank Army. Troops of the left wing of the Steppe Front reached the Dnieper on September 23 (the Seventh Guard Army). Troops of the Southwestern Front liberated the Donbas. On September 22 they threw the enemy back to the Dnieper in the region of Dnepropetrovsk and Zaporozh’e, and on September 25 they crossed the Dnieper with forces of the Sixth Army. Troops of the Southern Front reached the Molochnaia River. By the end of September the troops of four fronts had advanced to the Dnieper between Loev and Zaporozh’e, overcoming the most fortified part of the Eastern Rampart and capturing 23 tactical bridgeheads on the right bank of the river.
In the second phase of the battle for the Dnieper, a struggle unfolded for expansion of the captured bridgeheads. The Soviet command planned to liberate Kiev, Dnepropetrovsk, Krivoi Rog, and then to move on to liberate the Right-bank Ukraine, defeat the enemy on the frontier of the Molochnaia River, liberate Northern Tavria, and create conditions for the liberation of the Crimea. The offensive of the troops of the Voronezh Front (from October 20, the First Ukrainian Front) in the Kiev axis began on October 12 and was completed on November 6 with the liberation of Kiev. Troops of the front continued the offensive against Korosten’, Zhitomir, and Fastov, and repelled an enemy counteroffensive that was launched on November 15. An important strategic bridgehead, extending more than 500 km along the front, was established on the right bank in the region of Kiev. Concurrently, troops of the Second, Third, and Fourth Ukrainian fronts (before October 20, the Steppe, Southwestern, and Southern fronts) engaged in hard fighting in the Kirovograd and Krivoi Rog axes and in Northern Tavria. In three months of fighting, the troops of the Second and Third Ukrainian fronts eliminated the enemy’s Zaporozh’e bridgehead on the left bank of the Dnieper and liberated Zaporozh’e on October 14 and Dnepropetrovsk on October 25. The troops of the Fourth Ukrainian Front, having launched an offensive on September 26, broke through the defense on the Molochnaia River, liberated Melitopol’ on October 23, and advanced to the lower reaches of the Dnieper and the Perekop Isthmus. In further advances at the end of 1943, Soviet troops captured the second strategically important bridgehead, stretching 450 km along the front on the right bank of the Dnieper in the region of Kremenchug, Piatikhatki, and Dneprodzerzhinsk.
As a result of the battle for the Dnieper, the enemy plan for stabilizing the front on the Dnieper was thwarted. The air force contributed a great deal to the success of the infantry, and partisans gave considerable help in the crossing of the Dnieper. Thanks to the successful outcome of the battle for the Dnieper, conditions were created for the liberation of the Right-bank Ukraine and the Crimea. Troops showed mass heroism in this battle, and 2,438 soldiers were given the titles of Hero of the Soviet Union for the crossing of the Dnieper.
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Miroshnichenko, B. A. Po Dnepru (Putevoditel). Moscow, 1967.
Laponogov, A. N. Po Dnepru (Putevoditel’). Moscow, 1970.
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G. A. KOLTUNOV