Just hours after Vladimir Putin’s birthday, a major bridge between Russia and Ukraine blew up in an alleged assault by Ukrainian saboteurs this morning.
Videos of the explosion on the Kerch Bridge, which connects the peninsula to the Russian mainland, show it shaking. As Ukraine makes more advances in the south into Kherson, the offensive might cut off supplies to Putin’s soldiers.
A train caught fire in the explosion, and a portion of the bridge has fallen into the water. Despite Russian assurances that there are sufficient supplies for two weeks, lengthy gasoline lineups have already started to develop in Crimea.
One Ukrainian official bragged that “Putin should be thrilled,” despite the fact that Kyiv has not admitted responsibility for the strike. Not everyone receives such a pricey birthday gift, the Russian president’s 70th birthday being yesterday.
According to Russian security, a vehicle bomb detonated on the bridge, igniting seven oil tankers on the adjacent railway line. Before the flames could be put out, it took four hours.
Before being permitted to pass the bridge, where it exploded, the vehicle was checked by the system with the highest level of security.
The claims are made despite the fact that Russia believed the bride had impenetrable security and military protection when it was inaugurated by Vladimir Putin in 2018.
Another train route to Crimea has reportedly been shut off in what some have described as coordinated attacks on Russian supply lines, according to reports.
There have been rumors that Putin may address the country on the bridge explosion amid concerns that he could wreck havoc in Ukraine.
In the conflict with Ukraine, he has already made hints that he would use nuclear weapons.
A top Ukrainian official expressed his delight at hearing about the explosion and expressed the expectation that it would aid in Russia’s expulsion.
On Twitter, President Zelensky’s adviser Mykhailo Podolyak wrote: “Crimea, the bridge, the beginning.
Everything that is unlawful must be destroyed, everything that has been taken must be given back to Ukraine, and everything that Russia has captured must be ejected.
The Kerch Bridge and the guided missile cruiser Moskva, two infamous icons of Ukrainian Crimea, have both been destroyed, the Ukrainian defense ministry said on social media. What comes next, russkis?
As Ukraine begins its counteroffensive against Russian soldiers in the country’s south and east, an explosion on the Kerch bridge occurred at 3 a.m. GMT today.
Video shows the adjacent road bridge partly collapsed and the train bridge engulfed in flames.
As a train sat in the center of the bridge and caught fire, witnesses stated they could hear the enormous explosion from kilometers away.
There were concerns as to why the bombs had eluded detection by X-rays screening vehicles on the bridge.
Before, it was believed that Russian personnel, including a group of military dolphins, were closely guarding the bridge.
Before being permitted to cross the bridge, authorities check and examine each vehicle. There is also a significant military presence nearby. None of this, however, was able to halt the explosion.
Russian-made ST-6035 “stationary radio-technical inspection complexes” are installed at the entrances at both ends to detect bombs.
According to Crimean official Oleg Kryuchkov, the fire on the Crimean bridge is now being put out.
“As soon as it’s finished, the bridge damage will be inspected, and after that, we can speak about the schedule for repair.”
After the bridge was destroyed and shortly after the Russian puppet authorities said there would be enough fuel for 40 days, lengthy lines started to form at gas stations in Crimea.
As panicked shoppers stood in line for hours, other reports said that there was just 15 days’ worth of gasoline.
In response to worries about supplies reaching the peninsula, locals were also restricted to 3kg of necessities, according to sources from the peninsula.
In a video, a Russian guy in Crimea is heard stating, “We had a nice life, but it was brief.”
“The bridge’s end.”
The routes [of escape] are now blocked.
Military analyst Yuri Kotyonok, a supporter of Putin, joined a chorus of those calling for massive Russian assaults on Ukraine.
“Crushing should be the solution to blowing up the bridge,” said someone.
The issue is punishment and our ability as a state to react to terrorist assaults, not retaliation.
“The Crimean Bridge will without a doubt be rebuilt.” I’m hoping they’ll finish it quickly, like in the next few months.
Why “targets in Kyiv are still intact” was his question.
‘It appears like this is the precursor to the major attack of the Ukrainians in the south,’ said Yuri Podolyaka, a well-known pro-Russian blogger.
“I myself will consider it a sign of a [epic failure] if over the next several days Ukraine does not descend into darkness and attacks are not carried out on the bridges over the Dnieper.”
The Crimean bridge has been destroyed, according to Vladimir Rogov, leader of the “We are Together with Russia” campaign and a top official in occupied Ukraine. Road and railroad connections have both been severed.
“The terrorist entity [in Ukraine] must be annihilated.”
He revealed the precise locations of the Ukrainian sites he wished to attack.
The fire broke out hours after explosions shook the city of Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine early on Saturday, sending smoke columns into the sky and setting off a string of further explosions.
Ihor Terekhov, the mayor of Kharkiv, said that missile strikes in the city’s center were the cause of the early-morning blasts.
He also said that one of the city’s medical facilities and a non-residential structure both caught fire as a result of the explosions. There were no reports of casualties right away.
Russian official television said that a gasoline tank was on fire on the bridge, albeit the exact source of the incident is yet unknown.
Russian authorities said that the burning train on the bridge constituted a “emergency.”
It is possible that an improvised explosive device concealed in one of the passing cars was set up, according to a Russian Telegram channel.
Videos showed the enormous fire on the 2018-opened bridge that the Ukrainians had long threatened to destroy.
It seems as if something flew into the bridge, according to comments on one video.
At first, Russia acknowledged that a gasoline storage tank had caught fire at 6 a.m. local time, but it was unclear if a bomb or missile had set it off.
The Kremlin-appointed leader of Crimea’s annexation, Oleg Kryuchkov, said: “According to preliminary information, a gasoline storage tank is on fire.”
Navigational arches were unharmed.
‘It is too soon to discuss causes and effects.
Work is being done to put out the fire.
According to Crimean Railways, which is under Russian authority, “a gasoline tank near the tail of a freight train caught fire.”
The locomotive and many cars were sent to Kerch station.
The bridge connects the Russian Krasnodar region with Crimea.
It will disrupt Putin’s supply lines to the territory he annexed eight years ago if it is out of commission.
In recent days, Ukraine’s predictions that they will retake the peninsula have grown more ambitious.
Russian Telegram channel Rybar’s report stated:
Around six in the morning, an explosion occurred on a portion of the Crimean Bridge.
Official sources state that a gasoline tanker caught fire.
Traffic has been momentarily halted as emergency personnel and road workers attempt to put out the fire.
A simple fire could not have caused one of the cars to be rendered inoperable, as shown in images and video recordings.
“It is probable that an IED concealed in one of the passing cars was detonated,” the report said.
According to Russian sources, the assault on the Crimean Bridge, which the Ukrainians have long considered a prized target, may have been carried out by an underwater drone.
What kind of power did the explosion need to have for a span of the bridge to go under water, asked pro-Kremlin war reporter Andrey Rudenko?
“It is very reasonable to believe that the primary explosion occurred underwater.”
There were rumors that the West had given Ukraine underwater kamikaze drones at the start of the year.
The alleged incident happened the day after Vladimir Putin turned 70.
He demanded that Kyiv be exacted upon right now.
But I’m certain that what occurred will now be [officially] classified as a calamity [not brought on by Ukraine].
Russia will eventually “do the right thing,” however.
It is vital to respond in a manner that causes the ground to burn under these animals’ feet.
The explosion reportedly occurred as a new Russian general was appointed to lead Putin’s “special military operation.”
Army General Sergey Surovikin has assumed leadership, despite this not being formally stated, according to sources.
According to a statement made by the British Ministry of Defence in June, suspicions of corruption and violence have haunted Surovikin’s career for more than thirty years.
Two men in a car on the bridge overheard the conversation.
We should probably leave it, one person said.
What should we do?
“I have young kids,” you say.
One of the men calls Anatoly [Tolya] and informs him that he will be late because the bridge is on fire.
On the peninsula, there were reported car lines; some drivers were accommodated at Kerch Airport.
‘A temporary housing complex with restrooms, tents, food, and water was erected at the airport site.
“Car traffic is being diverted to the airport right now.”
Russia insisted that there was a railway fire.
RBC received word from the Russian National Anti-Terrorism Committee that “a vehicle was blown up on the Crimean crossing.”
“This caused the train’s seven fuel tanks to catch fire.” The bridge’s two automobile spans partly collapsed.
After the bridge was destroyed, anger increased among Moscow pundits who were in favor of the war.
“I know what we are going to hear: it is time to attack the decision-making centers and leave not a single bridge intact in Kyiv,” said Vladimir Kornilov, a writer for the state-run RIA Novosti.
If it hadn’t already been stated a million times, I would also say this.
“One thing is certain: as long as we do not react severely to more and more blatant sabotage by restricting ourselves to hollow threats, this sabotage will only increase and increase,” the author writes.
The head of RT media, Anton Krasovsky, said: “For the bridge, one must respond savagely.” Attack Lviv, Kharkiv, Kyiv, Odessa, and Zhytomyr. Quit being so patient!
As Kiev’s troops move in the south and east, an expert sets out the strategy for defeating Russia, with all roads leading to Crimea.
President Volodymyr Zelesnky said back in August that “This conflict started with Crimea and must conclude with Crimea – with its freedom.” Military analysts claim that his generals are specifically seeking to do that.
The Ukrainian path to triumph, according to Ben Hodges, a former American commander in Europe, begins in Kherson and Mariupol and ends “when the last Russian soldier crosses the [Kerch] bridge out of Crimea.”
According to General Hodges, who is currently working at the Center for European Policy Analysis, Ukraine’s main effort will continue to be capturing Kherson in the south, where a significant assault has been going on since early August, with a secondary attack hooking down through the Donbas and towards the city of Mariupol.
He said at a CEPA conference last week that after Mariupol fell, those forces would also assemble in Crimea and bombard the peninsula with HIMARS rockets to drive the Russians back over the border.
As he shared his own opinions on Twitter, Dr. Mike Martin, a visiting scholar of war studies at King’s College, also mentioned the possibility of a third assault in which Ukraine would use its reserves to divide the Russian position in half and make it impossible for Putin to send reinforcements.
There are no guarantees in battle, but Putin will undoubtedly use all available means to halt Kiev, including maybe employing a nuclear bomb or deploying a large number of conscripts to the front lines.
However, as Ukraine’s strategy for success becomes evident, MailOnline looks at how it may develop.
Early in August, Ukraine launched its lauded counterattack on the Kherson area. Since then, it has advanced gradually, however indications of a breakthrough this week have begun to surface.
The aim, according to Kyiv, is to retake Kherson from Russian rule. It is the only regional capital that Putin has so far taken control of during the conflict and is situated in a key area, spanning the Dnipro River where it empties into the Dniprovska Gulf before continuing on to the Black Sea.
By seizing it, Russia would lose its last foothold on the west bank of the Dnipro, thus rule out an attack on Odessa, demonstrate the fraud of Putin’s phony referendums and claims of annexation, and pave the way for an attack on Crimea, the crown jewel of Ukraine.
According to General Hodges, it might take “weeks” to breach the Kherson pocket. None has been provided by Ukraine itself. However, success in this situation, if it can be done, would represent a turning point.
Up to 30,000 Russian soldiers may be stationed in the city, making it where the majority of its surviving forces in Ukraine are located. If they were to be lost, the Kremlin may find it difficult to recover.
Furthermore, Kyiv has made it clear to observers what would happen next if Kherson fell.
Several massive explosions that shook the Crimea before to the attack on Kherson destroyed munitions stores, airfields, and supply lines. Kyiv was reluctant to take credit, possibly because it wanted to conceal the weapon it used in the assaults, which seemed to exceed its known capabilities, or perhaps because it feared Putin would escalate the situation.
After all, the dictator incorporated Crimea into Russia in 2014, at least in the view of the Kremlin.
Zelensky, though, pledged that “Crimea is Ukrainian and we will never give it up” in a speech on August 10. This Russian conflict must finish with the liberation of Crimea since it started there.
This frontline had a quite different appearance up until a few weeks ago, with Ukraine resisting Russian long-range strikes in Kharkiv and Russia making steady progress in the southern region of Bakhmut.
But once Russia sent some of its strongest soldiers to the south to assist defend Kherson, a sudden Ukrainian counterattack altered everything.
In only a few days of action, a breach in the Russian defenses led to a swift advance and eventual outright defeat of Putin’s army in the Kharkiv area, handing back control of an estimated 3,000 square miles to the Ukrainians.
The departure was so hurried that when Ukrainians arrived to abandoned Russian encampments, they found food still on stoves. Hundreds of rounds of ammunition as well as dozens of cars were confiscated.
The attack is still ongoing. Ukraine’s progress has slowed but not halted as Russia has regrouped.
At the weekend, Lyman, a significant transit hub in northern Donetsk, was taken captive. Currently, troops are moving forward from there towards Kreminna in the neighboring Luhansk area and from Borova to Svatove.
If those two were to fall, it would pave the way for an assault on Lysychansk and Severodonetsk, whose capture Russia spent weeks putting blood, sweat, and ammunition into and which is essential to its claim of having “liberated” the Luhansk region.
Ukraine might then decide whether to assault one of the regional capitals, Donetsk or Luhansk, or to forgo them and advance southward toward the sea and the city of Mariupol.
Certainly, that is the conclusion General Hodges has reached.
He told the CEPA conference, “My impression is that the operations that are currently under way – the northern arm that is coming down from Kharkiv towards Donetsk, [and’ that’s heading straight towards Mariupol.”
Apart from Kherson, Mariupol was the other prize taken by Putin in the conflict’s slightly more than seven-month duration after the valiant Ukrainian defenders were worn down to the point of surrender, which occurred in May.
If Ukraine were to retake Mariupol, it would be a crushing blow. The city’s protectors, the Azov Battalion, were portrayed by Russia as war criminals and neo-Nazis. Putin’s assertion that he is “de-Nazifying” Ukraine is, at least in part, predicated on seizing the city and destroying this unit.
General Hodges predicts that the Ukrainian army would move ‘Towards Crimea’ if Mariupol falls.
After it became apparent how extensive Ukraine’s counterattack around Kharkiv was, Dr. Mike Martin of King’s College wrote on Twitter about a month ago, “When and where to commit your reserve is literally THE question for the theatre commander.”
The reserves of Ukraine are still mostly a mystery. It is impossible to estimate how many men Kiev may have available and ready to deploy, let alone what kind of weapons they may be armed with, because the size of its armed forces and the number of casualties have been kept a closely guarded secret.
Nevertheless, Kyiv has conducted a general mobilization of the population, in contrast to Russia, which has belatedly opted for ‘partial’ mobilisation. As a result, every man up to the age of 65 is eligible to be called up, which would equate to millions of troops if they could all be equipped and trained.
The issue then becomes: Where, how, and when does Ukraine utilize these forces?
Dr. Martin thinks he has the solution after making a post on Twitter today. “Ukraine [would] deploy its strategic reserve to split the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine into two sections that cannot reinforce one other.”
In addition to the tweet, he also shared a hastily drawn map that showed the alleged advance’s path, from the major cities of Dnipro and Zaporizhzhia towards Mariupol and the nearby town of Berdyansk.
This front has been relatively quiet since Russia advanced across it early in the war, with the exception of skirmishes around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and Ukrainian partisan activity. However, according to Dr. Martin, it may soon find itself in the middle of the action.
The trust makes sense, assuming Ukraine can pull it off. It would enable the forces in the vicinity of Kharkiv to concentrate their efforts on attacking Luhansk and Donetsk, freeing the Donbas from Russian rule. Additionally, it would stop Putin from removing any units from Kherson to assist in defending the area unless those units were prepared to break through Ukrainian defenses.
The prize is Crimea. That’s how it will turn out. General Hodges, referring about the bridge Putin has constructed over the Kerch Strait linking Crimea with the Russian mainland, predicts that victory would come when the final Russian soldier crosses it.
Another former US commander who spoke at the same CEPA event, Mark Hertling, concurred that Ukraine is aiming for the peninsula. But he did warn that accepting it would be “a tough fight.”
The Crimean peninsula is entirely divided from the mainland by what General Hertling refers to as “marshland,” a collection of tiny islands with just two major highways that Ukrainian troops may use to assault it. This is in contrast to the rest of Ukraine, which is generally flat and open.
Even if Russian soldiers are already in poor condition when an attack occurs, this still leaves them severely exposed and restricts Kyiv’s choices for how to conduct the operation.
According to General Hertling, “Russia utilized largely naval troops and special operations to get into Crimea” during its 2014 invasion. Since Ukraine currently lacks ships and no naval activities, getting there will need long-range [artillery].
But you can’t seize terrain with artillery alone; you also need to send some ground troops in to achieve it. It’s going to be a hard battle.”
Putin will battle to maintain Crimea, General Hertling is confident—as long as he is in charge.
If Mr. Putin were still in charge, he would consider an assault on Crimea to be much more controversial than an attack on one of Ukraine’s other oblasts, the author said. “We haven’t yet seen Russia employ its strategic bomber fleet or its naval assets to the full extent that they may be able to.”
You could wonder whether, in light of the inefficiency of their ground troops, we might also be worried about their air and sea capabilities. I’d say most likely. However, they are still accessible.
General Hodges concurred, but he thinks Putin will have a “option” if Ukrainian artillery, in particular the destructive HIMARS systems, are within striking distance of Russian positions in Crimea.
General Hodges continued, “I think the Ukrainians will leave that big bridge up as an invitation to leave.”