In its November 9 intelligence update, the British Defense Ministry says that Russia’s Kerch bridge connecting occupied Crimea to Russia is unlikely to be fully operational until at least September 2023. Meanwhile, the damage to the Kerch bridge, as well as the recent naval drone attack on Russian warships in Sevastopol and the probable Russian withdrawal from Kherson complicate Russia’s ability to “paint a picture of military success.”
The report goes as follows:
- Russian efforts to repair the Crimean Bridge continue but it is unlikely to be fully operational until at least September 2023. On 8 November the road bridge was due to be closed to allow the movement and installation of a replacement 64-metre span. Three more spans will be required to replace the damaged road sections.
- Although Crimean officials have claimed these additional spans will be in place by 20 December, a briefing provided to President Putin added that works to the other carriageway would cause disruption to road traffic until March 2023.
- Replacement of the damaged rail bridge has been contracted for completion by September 2023, although Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister stated the repair timeline would be expedited. One track is open, but rail transport remains restricted. Repair activity will be heavily dependent on weather conditions through the winter months.
- The Crimean bridge attack has disrupted Russian logistics supplies for Crimea and southern Ukraine, reducing Russia’s ability to move military equipment and troops into the area by rail or road. The damage to the bridge, the recent attack on the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol and the probable withdrawal from Kherson all complicate the Russian government’s ability to paint a picture of military success.