Ukraine War Day #115: Can Ukes Take Out Kerch Bridge?

Dear Readers:

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.

Dmitry Marchenko: “Winning!”

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”.

A Ukrainian winged “Neptune” rocket

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]

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19 Responses to Ukraine War Day #115: Can Ukes Take Out Kerch Bridge?

  1. peter moritz says:

    Not to speculate much, but so far Russia has refrained from targeting any Government buildings in Kiev.
    That might change rapidly, even after only trying to take the bridge down. There are also civilian airports still functioning, and a whole lot of other, so far undamaged infrastructure, in Ukraine that suddenly might be “rubbled”.

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    • yalensis says:

      Presumably there are some low-key channels between the 2 governments, so maybe Ukrainians know what to expect if they do it (?)

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      • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

        Ukrainians have never held back for fear making things worse for themselves. To expect them to do so now is folly – far better to implement a policy of destroying Ukrainian government offices and killing all Ukrainian government officials without exception. Levelling their broadcasting facilities and burying their newsreaders in the ash would be another fruitful step.

        The fact that this wasn’t done from the very first just makes me wonder if Moscow has somehow managed to forget the lessons of the Chechen wars.

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  2. colliemum says:

    Yes, the Ukries might be capable of doing this and there might even be some who think it must be done. If successful, it would be a huge morale buster and an incredible propaganda coup for Kiev.
    However … when he was asked about those ‘red lines’, didn’t Mr Putin refuse to answer, saying – I’m paraphrasing – that he alone knew what they were and wasn’t telling?
    I can well imagine that this would be such a red line. Also – I’m sure that his generals have planned and for and probably practiced scenarios for any red line Mr Putin has in mind, so the answer by Russia to Kiev would be very fast and extremely devastating.

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    • yalensis says:

      Ukries would be overjoyed if they actually succeeded, they would be dancing in the streets.
      By the way, colliemum, I read that blogpost you linked, which you wrote, it’s very good, excellent critique of the stupid BBC!

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      • colliemum says:

        Thank you, yalensis!
        That BBC interview was so blatant I just couldn’t let it pass. Not that the editors and opinion piece writers in our UK MSM are any better, they are more subtle. So giving them my daily once-over, with a jolly good poke at the government, the political parties and my special bugbear, the Whitehall Mandarins, is what keeps me sane.

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  3. S Brennan says:

    “A single ATACMS Block 1 can also be carried and fired by a US Army HIMARS XM142 wheeled light vehicle ” one presumes that a Block 1A variant can also be launched and…there is an “an anti-hard target Block 1A variant”

    Since the sociopaths that control the levers of power in der Bunker…oops, I meant..White House are a melange of the 3LA’s Clinton/Cheney/Obama Administration-[singular intended]; it’s quite possible that, in order to distract from yet another of their globe-trotting eff-ups, they would supply the euro-Nazis in former-Ukrainia with a weapon to carry out the destruction of the Kerch Bridge; which…they know full-well will lead to a massive loss of life in Kiev and rump-Ukrainia.

    This carefully orchestrated war crime will provide the needed smoke cover for the 3LA’s Clinton/Cheney/Obama Administration-[singular intended] monkeys to slink away unnoticed, the media focus will be solely the “verifiable Russian atrocity”. I can see the notes of the 3LA scribes already “Russia’s disproportionate response to an artillery attack on MILITARY infrastructure by our brave resisters in West-Ukrainia”.

    Yeah, the boys & girls of the 3LA’s Clinton/Cheney/Obama Administration-[singular intended] are perfectly cable of plotting such a mass murder…who knows, it could provide a detraction from massive domestic-policy failures and help the 3LA’s-congressional-caucus in November? In the 3LAs-DC, what’s a 100,000 peoples lives compared to the ability to cling to power? And so it goes.

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    • yalensis says:

      I saw a segment on the New Atlas youtube channel, in which Brian discusses how the HIMARS work. Apparently you need 9 of them (I think the number is 9) to make up a battery. They all work together. But that’s for combat situation. Not sure if you can just rig one up by itself to go at the bridge? Maybe you can, I hope they don’t try.

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  4. Stephen T Johnson says:

    Eh, it’s a lot less exciting now there’s a land bridge, it seems to me. It’s about 350 km from Zaporozhe to the Kerch bridge, and more like 500 from Nikolaev, so the HIMARS will not do the job regardless of missile choice (Max 300 km, yeah?), really, AFAICT, and Harpoon even less (+/- 250 km range at max).
    So short of some kind of aerial treetop assault, I doubt they can pull it off. If they had Kalibers (or Tomahawks) or Iskanders, they could, but no signs of anything in that class.

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    • yalensis says:

      Stephen, you anticipated the continuation of the analysis (probably in my post tomorrow), where it is pointed out that the new land bridge is a game changer. And actually makes the Bridge itself self important than it was before, although it would still be a huge calamity if the Ukies were to bring it down.
      So, you think the HIMARS will not work? That’s good news! You’ll see in the continuation that one of the experts thinks the only possible way to bring ‘er down is with a nuke.

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      • S Brennan says:

        “The Block 1A has a minimum range of 100 km and deploys a single 160 kg warhead. The maximum range depends on the warhead, with 300 km for the submunition [variant] and 270 km for the [extended-range, anti-hard target Block 1A variant]”

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        • S Brennan says:

          So, the Kherson front lines to Kerch distance [by air] is approximately 300 kilometers so, admittedly, it’s a stretch from PUBLISHED, PUBLIC SOURCE DATA but…therein lies the rub.

          To Patrick’s point, below; the expensive, the costliest section of a bridge, in terms of time and money, is it’s high span, destroy that portion’s abutment and you are talking years and years of repair. And another point Patrick, should that portion be blown-up by the 3LA nut-jobs that rule DC, Russia would still effect repair by the same means that they built it. Why? Because when you want to carry very heavy things, the best roadbed in on earth is NOT bridge but, a waterway [see Minoan, Carthaginian, Tamil, Polynesian, Spanish/Portuguese, English, US..etc empires].

          My impression is that, to the Ruskies, the Kerch Bridge is to them, what the Berlin Airlift was to my father…an attempt to circumvent war through Odyssian thinking. And as respect my father, so too, i tip my hat to Russ for their efforts.

          And to be clear, I may be playing Cassandra’s tragic role here but, as was the case her some three thousand years ago, being wrong is the least of my worries.

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  5. Well. The bridge is quite long. So talking about “destroying” it is hardly accurate. Bring down a span is a better way of putting it. To do so would be bad enough but a span is replaceable.You can break a portion of it but that can be repaired and the existence of the rest of the bridge would allow you to bring the heavy equipment up to it. It’s a bit like trying to “destroy” a railway: to do so requires the sort of effort Sherman’s army did in the US Civil War. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherman%27s_neckties) Russian response? Well, I’ll bet Moscow has a pretty good idea of where Zelinsky is at any given moment.

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    • yalensis says:

      To that point (where’s Zelensky?) I saw some news yesterday that the Great Man himself deigned to visit the front lines in Nikolaev. Presumably travelling thither via rail. What guts! people will say. I have a sneaking suspicion (although I obviously cannot prove it), that Zelensky’s entourage communicates to Russia (via back channels) when he is about to undertake a journey by rail. Then, by gentlemen’s agreement, they don’t kill him.

      This would be the same explanation why the likes of Macaroni, Liverwurst, and Boris Johnson would have the nuts to travel by rail all the way from Warsaw to Kiev, when a Russian cruise missile could take them all out together in a single second. They must have cleared it in advance with Putin, is what I am implying.

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