If you are like me, then you are a worrier. (So, I hope, for your sake, you are not like me.) One of the (many) things I worry about, is the Kerch Bridge. Also known as the Crimea Bridge, or the Kerch Strait Bridge. Also known as the Eighth Wonder of the World, as it connects the Crimean Peninsula to mainland Russia. It is not exactly a secret that the Ukrainian armed forces have been threatening to blow that thing up, since the day it was built.
I saw this piece today, which discusses the whole issue in detail, and whether or not we need to worry, or not worry, about this bridge. The reporters are Darya Volkova, Alyona Zadorozhnaya, and Rafael Fakhrutdinov.
The lede paragraph: Kiev has threatened to destroy the Crimea Bridge since the moment of its creation, in 2018. Their threats have remained empty, but now generals of the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) are letting us know, directly, that they are counting on using those long-distance rockets which the West has promised them. Not only that, but Ukrainian Intel just announced that they have obtained a detailed engineering blueprint of the bridge. How realistic is this threat, and why is Kiev dreaming so hard about destroying this bridge?
Okay, that lede has me worried already, despite the fact that the title to the entire piece reads:
Why Ukraine Is Incapable Of Destroying The Crimea Bridge
That’s okay, I am a red-pill kind of person. So, just give it to me strait (haha, little pun there), just the facts, Ma’am, and then I’ll decide for myself, just how sleep I want to lose at night, worrying about this issue.
So, continuing: We have the mild displeasure of meeting this fellow named Dmitry Marchenko, who is a Mayor-General in the UAF. According to his wiki, this guy is 44 years old, hails from the Nikolaev region of the Ukraine, and goes by the Italian-sounding callname “Marchello”, even though he looks like your typical Russo-Ukrainian potato-head and nothing like a suave and handsome Italian man.
This past Thursday (a couple of days ago), Marchenko gave an interview to Ukrainian media, in which he stated the following: “For the UAF, the Kerch Bridge is Target #1. This is no secret, neither for their soldiers, nor for our soldiers. Nor for their civilians, nor for our civilians. This is our Target #1 for the striking.” In Marchanko’s defense, he does not regard such “striking” as a purely terrorist action against civilian infrastructure, since he believes the Bridge is being used by the Russian army to bring in their reserves. And he might be right about that, for all I know.
Responding to Marchenko’s threat, the Russian government has stated that every possible security measure is in place to protect the Crimea Bridge. The Head of Crimea is a man named Sergei Aksyonov. He responded to Marchenko’s threat with a bit of bluster of his own: “A fool thinks he is wise (Дурень думкой богатеет). These denizens of the Kiev offices more and more resemble those denizens of the Reich Chancellery in 1945. Those same fantasies about the Wonder-Weapons (Wunderwaffen). That same feverish idiotism and meaningless speeches.”
But the reporters/analysts rebuke Aksyonov for his bluster, pointing out Marchenko cannot just be dismissed like some armchair strategist or Twitter-blogger. Furthermore, this General has never before been noted for a “hats in the air” kind of triumphalism. This officer, who heads the Ukrainian materials procurement office, made his career during the first Donbass war. In the summer of 2014 he personally led 5,000 Ukrainian soldiers out of encirclement in the Izvarino Cauldron. In the autumn of that same year he participated in battles at the Donetsk Airport. During the current campaign he was charged with fortifying Nikolaev against the Russian army and, by all accounts, has done a credible job. All of this leading to the conclusion that we should listen to Marchenko’s threats, and not just dismiss him as some kind of svidomite crackpot.
So, What Is Their Beef Against This Innocent Bridge?
The Kiev officials and politicians have been harping against this bridge since the very beginning, first they did everything in their power to prevent it being built in the first place; and after it was built, they have been threatening to bring it crashing down. In 2018 Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Vladimir Omelyan swore that “the Russian will pay heavily” for building this bridge connecting “Ukrainian Crimea and Ukrainian Kuban peninsula”. [The Kuban is undisputed Russian territory, but the Ukrainians still like to claim it sometimes. On that note, if I were a Ukrainian patriot, I think I would have welcomed the bridge: “Oh see how our Russian enemies are building this wonderful thing for us, which we shall gladly use after we kick them out and conquer the entire region, including the Kuban…”]
In 2019, more ominously, Alexander Turchinov, Head of the Ukrainian Security Council at that time, declared that Ukrainian Neptune rockets would be able to destroy the bridge “in just a couple of minutes”.
And just a couple of months ago, this past April, the current head of the Ukrainian Security Council, Alexei Danilov, confirmed that they would strike at the Crimea Bridge the very first moment they had the opportunity to do so. To which Russia’s Dmitry Medvedev responded, that he hoped Danilov understood, that a powerful counter-blow would be expected to such an attack.
No doubt the Ukrainians understand the rules of deterrence and threat of a counter-strike, but their desperation might win out over their caution. In fact, the existential threat to this bridge has increased several-fold with the promise of receiving American HIMARS. There cannot be any doubt that the Ukrainians intend to employ such HIMARS against the Crimea Bridge. Russian Colonel-General Viktor Zavarzin: “This weapon [the HIMARS] can shoot at great distances; and Kiev is counting upon this fact, of course.”
But can they destroy the bridge? According to Military Engineer Vyacheslav Khramtsov: “Yes, It is possible to destroy the Crimea Bridge with a very accurate strike. Even if the rocket is shot down, the bridge could still be destroyed, and then it would be necessary to rebuild it.”
All of this is worrying enough, but then we learn that Ukrainian Intel claims to have gotten their hands on the actual blueprints for the bridge. To study its construction intimately, all the better to destroy it.
[to be continued]