Day 509. Today the biggest news comes from Crimea. Early in the morning, Russian sources claimed that Ukrainians conducted a massive attack on the Kerch Bridge and successfully destroyed several sections. The movement on all bridges was immediately closed, and inspectors arrived at the site for evaluation of the damage.
The inspectors found out that the first lane of the road bridge was badly damaged, and the section could neither be used nor restored. The second lane’s respective section sagged and required complete replacement due to the damage, while the railroad bridge sustained mild damage. Judging by the available footage, many analysts concluded that the damage was inflicted by the explosion under the bridge, which threw the sections up in the air, causing them to slide to the sides.
The inspectors said that optimistically, the first lane will be fixed by 15 September, making the road bridge partially operable, while the second lane will be fixed by November. In the meantime, thousands of cars accumulated from both sides, causing massive traffic jams.
Local authorities asked everyone to seek alternative routes and invited them to travel via the Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk oblasts. But after yesterday’s Storm Shadow raid precisely along this alternative line, Russians became rather reluctant to get anywhere near these places.
Nonetheless, the railroad bridge was opened the same day. But this is not surprising because it was clearly not the main target of this attack.
The attack was reportedly conducted by at least two marine kamikaze drones. Judging by the footage, Russian forces tried to shoot them down with machine guns, but the target proved to be too challenging, and the drones reached their destination.
The inspectors who reportedly found the remnants of these drones on the bridge claimed that Ukrainians used regular water scooters as a base for the vessels, then removed the top and put a lot of explosives, which is why the scooter almost completely submerges under the water and is virtually invisible.
Many Russian sources claim that Ukrainians launched these marine drones from Zmiinyi (Snake) Island. Interestingly, several days ago, Russians conducted an airstrike on Ukrainian objects on this island, but it looks like it was unsuccessful.
Russian sources published satellite footage, claiming that several hours before the explosions, four high-speed marine objects were seen traveling along the coast of Crimea.
Russian analysts aggressively expressed their discontent with the level of security and asked the Russian Ministry of Defense how the widely publicized 20 layers of protection could not handle several scooters.
Soon, more information became available, and it turned out that at least one drone was launched from the Azov Sea. Such developments left the Russian military analysts speechless as Ukrainians do not have direct access to the Azov Sea.
The most likely scenario is that a ship with marine drones was allowed to pass through, where it later deployed a kamikaze drone, suggesting that the level of security is more pitiful than expected.
President Putin stated that he is already discussing with the Ministry of Defense new possible ways of improving the security of the Kerch Bridge to prevent the same thing from happening for the third time.
Ukrainian Intelligence commented on the situation, and even though they neither confirmed nor denied their involvement, they added that the Kerch Bridge was built illegally and, from their point of view, it is a redundant structure.
The importance of the destruction of the Kerch Bridge is hard to overestimate – this bridge had a strategic significance for the Russian Armed Forces because it was the most established and safest supply line to the Russian southern group of forces.
Even though Russians can and do deliver supplies via Mariupol and Berdiansk, since Ukrainians obtained Storm Shadow missiles, a substantial portion of these supplies has always been destroyed, further increasing dependence on the Crimean supply line.
Without the Kerch Bridge, Russian forces will slowly start experiencing shortages of everything – from food to equipment, resembling what we already saw during the previous counteroffensive operations.
In our daily frontline report, we pair up with the military blogger Reporting from Ukraine to keep you informed about what’s happening on the battlefield in the Russo-Ukrainian war.
- Frontline report: Ukrainian drones successfully attack Russian intelligence ship and military facilities (26 May 2023)
- Crimea’s Kerch bridge partially collapses after powerful explosion: LIVE UPDATES (8 October 2023)