06/21/2022, 09.32
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Kiev wants to destroy Putin's bridge in Crimea

by Vladimir Rozanskij


The Kerč link connects the two southern ends of the Azov Sea. The Russian president wanted to rebuild it after the annexation of Crimea. The Russians militarized it in fear of a Ukrainian attack. Kiev admits it is currently unable to strike it.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Among the many strategic and symbolic sites in the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, there is one particularly sensitive one that the Russians are trying hard to protect from possible opposing counterattacks. It is the Kerč Bridge, also known as the "Crimean Bridge," which connects the two southern ends of the Sea of Azov: the peninsular protrusion of Kerč in Crimea with that of Taman in Russia, aggregating the two islets of Tuzla and Tuzlinskaja Kosa (the "Tuzla Braid"). It is a rail link destroyed in 1944-45 by the Nazis, and triumphantly rebuilt by Putin in 2018 as an automobile crossing, and the following year doubled again with a rail section.

The bridge enshrines the reunion of the eastern and western parts of the territory, creating a barrier also for the Ukrainian coastal area now almost entirely occupied by the Russians, who in this way control the entire Azov coast and outlets on the Black Sea. The Ukrainians dream of a counteroffensive and recovery of the occupied territories, and threaten in various ways precisely to attack the Kerč bridge to prevent the Russians from crossing. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said in recent days that they "are in possession of the detailed technical documentation" of the bridge, recovered by Kiev counterintelligence, and have begun to make it public "for the analysis and knowledge of all interested parties."

The waters around the bridge have been under surveillance by the Russians since the beginning of the military operation in Ukraine, and in recent days the alert has reached the highest levels. Many warships and radio control systems are stationed around the bridge to defend against any kind of threat. The technical features of the structure have emerged in the press since 2017, during construction, and now Kiev is releasing all the details to encourage Ukrainian resistance plans, as Ukrainian General Dmitry Marčenko explained to the press.

To cross the bridge, from the beginning the Russians set up a rather strict permit system for transporters and ordinary citizens, fortifying land accesses from both sides and even on passing islets, and leaving some permanent surveillance boats entrusted to the FSB security services.

One of the commanders of the control vessels, Aleksej Saulin, told Krym.Realii that he voluntarily traveled to Kerč from his native northern Russian city of Kostroma, driven by excitement over Crimea's annexation by Russia in 2014. In addition to monitoring the security of the bridge, one of his tasks is to hunt down poachers, who are taking advantage of the new communication routes to increase illicit trafficking. One of the most impressive vessels in the area is the 112-ton Lamantin, which is capable of working in total autonomy for 10 consecutive days.

The observation post is located on the lighthouse at Cape Fonar, and is headed by Vladislav Kočubej, who tells how the surveillance is absolute, even with night vision goggles "to monitor not only the bridge, but the whole area around the landings and passing traffic, with the support of the Russian Black Sea Fleet and submarines, possessing hydro-acoustic systems." The Russians continue to supply the area with increasingly advanced defense and surveillance systems, and Ukrainian General Staff Secretary Aleksej Danilov admits that "for now we are not in a position to attack the Kerč Bridge, but if there is even a chance, we will not let it slip."

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