The attack on the Crimean bridgehead, the culmination of Russia’s decline in Ukraine

Published in : Changed :

The partial destruction of the Crimean Bridge, a symbol of the annexation of the peninsula and critical infrastructure for supplying the Russian army in Ukraine, crowned a string of humiliations for Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

For Vladimir Putin, bad news is chasing others on the Ukrainian front. While the Russian army continued to lose against advancing troops from Kyiv, the assault on the Crimean bridgehead on Saturday 8 October ended a string of failures for the Russian president.

CCTV footage shared on social media showed a massive explosion as several vehicles crossed the bridge, including a truck that Russian authorities suspect was the source of the explosion.

For the Kremlin, which just months ago boasted about security around the building, the humiliation was total.

The Kerch Bridge connecting Crimea to Russia is a vital supply line for Russian troops to gain control of the occupied territories in southern Ukraine as the battle for the city of Kherson draws near.

Despite its strategic value, the largest bridge in Europe (19 km) built in just 3 years is a symbol in Russian eyes of the annexation of the peninsula and its attachment to Russia. The triumphant Vladimir Putin has made it official in jeans and a black jacket, driving a truck, on May 16, 2018.

For its part, Kyiv did not claim responsibility for the attack. This did not prevent its leaders from being happy. “Unfortunately, Crimea is overcast,” joked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

As for the head of the Security Council of Ukraine, Oleksi Danilov, he published on twitter a video of the fire accompanied by the famous song “Happy Birthday Mr. President” sung by Marilyn Monroe. The day before, Vladimir Putin celebrated his 70th birthday.

Exasperated Russian elite

This attack on key infrastructure came at a time when the Russian army was experiencing a bitter setback on the ground. After retaking the eastern city of Lyman, the galvanized Ukrainian army has had another string of successes this week.

According to Kyiv, his troops recaptured more than 400 km2 to Russia in recent days in the South. Several videos on social media show Russian soldiers surrendering without a fight like this tank crew.

In Moscow, the elite’s criticism of the conduct of the war was increasingly harsh. They are not targeting Vladimir Putin directly as is customary in Russia, but his advisers and the Defense Ministry.

The army’s general staff was targeted mainly because of the weakness in equipment and supervision of the mobilized army. Even the most ardent propagandists were concerned about the dilapidated state of certain Russian units. “I’m tired of receiving messages saying that the mobilized should buy their equipment with their money. Why should a mobilized man, a hero, have to buy what he needs? propagandist Vladimir Sololyov.”

>> To read: In Russia, the poor and ethnic minorities paid a heavy price for the war in Ukraine

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov chastised the military command, while a senior parliamentary official, Andrei Kartapolov, called on the army’s Telegram to “stop lying” about its defeat.

What acts of retaliation?

In a sign of discontent at the top, Moscow announced on Saturday that it had appointed a new head of “special military operations” in Ukraine, General Sergei Surovikin, 55.

A veteran of the civil war in Tajikistan in the 1990s, a second war in Chechnya in the 2000s and Russia’s intervention in Syria launched in 2015, Sergei Surovikin until then led the “South” troop group in Ukraine, according to a Russian. ministry report from July.

According to RFI, Serguei Surovikin was nicknamed “Armageddon, because of his tendency to use missiles against civilian infrastructure”. Should this be seen as an indication of the nature of Moscow’s planned retaliatory measures?

Russia, which does not directly accuse Kyiv of the Crimean bridge attack while evoking the “terrorist nature of Ukraine”, has doubted the response it wants to give to this insult.

Vladimir Putin will convene his Security Council on Monday, a format that brings together chief ministers, political leaders and representatives of the security services and the army.

For now, Russian authorities are working to minimize the damage suffered by the Kerch bridge and ensure rail and road traffic can resume. “All scheduled trains will pass in full,” Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khousnulline said on Sunday, according to the Ria Novosti news agency.

Crimean authorities had announced on Saturday that traffic would also resume for cars and buses on the only passage of the bridge which remains intact. Ferries are also taken over to carry out crossings, especially for heavy goods vehicles.

With AFP

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *