Why Crimea’s Kerch Bridge is a big deal in Russia’s war in Ukraine
The recent attack on the Kerch Bridge connecting Russia to the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea has once again brought attention to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. The attack, carried out using naval drones, caused disruptions to a key supply route for Moscow’s military. The bridge holds great military significance for Russia, as well as deep symbolic meaning for President Vladimir Putin, who oversaw the illegal invasion and occupation of Crimea in 2014. This article will explore why the Kerch Bridge is important to Russia and its role in the war in Ukraine.
The Kerch Bridge and its Significance
The Kerch Bridge, a 12-mile road-and-rail bridge connecting Russia and Crimea, was built by Russia after the illegal annexation of Crimea. It is not only of strategic importance militarily but is also deeply symbolic for Putin. The Russian president personally inaugurated the bridge in 2018, driving across it in an orange dump truck. The bridge serves as a physical manifestation of Russia‘s control over Crimea, a region that was internationally recognized as part of Ukraine before the annexation.
However, the bridge is widely disliked by Ukrainians who view it as a symbol of Russian occupation. The attack on the bridge by Ukraine, though not explicitly claimed by Ukrainian officials, is seen as a necessary move to undermine Russian control. Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, stated that any structures used by Russia to deliver instruments of mass murder are necessarily short-lived.
The recent attack resulted in significant damage to the bridge, with both lanes badly damaged and a section of the bridge nearly falling into the water below. This disruption to the key supply line between Russia and its forces in Crimea and southern provinces highlights the bridge’s importance in the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
Putin’s Response and the Impact on Russia
Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised a response to the attack, labeling it a “senseless attack.” The bridge not only serves as a crucial supply route for Russia‘s military but also plays a role in the summer vacation plans of many Russians. The bridge provides easy access to popular coastal resorts in Crimea, leaving tens of thousands of Russians stranded on the peninsula due to the disruption caused by the attack.
In response to the travel disruption, Russia‘s government has stated that it will relax border checks along alternative routes in occupied southern Ukraine to help stranded Russians return home. However, commercial flights to and from Crimea have been halted following Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine, further exacerbating the transportation challenges faced by those stranded on the peninsula.
The Role of Naval Drones
The use of naval drones in the attack on the Kerch Bridge is notable, as it highlights Ukraine‘s focus on countering Russia‘s superior navy. Naval drones have been a significant part of Ukraine‘s military strategy in the conflict. In October, Ukrainian naval drones targeted Russia‘s Black Sea fleet, damaging its new flagship.
According to experts, the attack on the bridge would have required vessels carrying a large payload to navigate through Russian patrol boats and helicopters, possibly avoiding radar by staying underwater. Ukraine‘s use of small, cheap unmanned surface vessels poses a constant challenge to the Russian Navy, imposing high costs on their operations and requiring a constant state of awareness and high-levels of stress.
Conclusion: The Ongoing Conflict and the Kerch Bridge
The recent attack on the Kerch Bridge highlights the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine and the strategic importance of the bridge in this war. For Russia, the bridge represents both a military supply line to its forces in Crimea and southern provinces and a symbol of its control over Crimea. The attack, carried out using naval drones, is seen as a necessary step for Ukraine to undermine Russian control and impose costs on the Russian Navy.
As the conflict continues, it is crucial for international actors to pay attention to the developments and work towards a peaceful resolution. The disruption caused by the attack on the bridge not only affects the military operations of both sides but also has implications for the daily lives and well-being of the people in the region. It is essential to find diplomatic solutions that address the underlying issues and promote stability in the region.
<< photo by David Martin >>
The image is for illustrative purposes only and does not depict the actual situation.
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