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Russian logistics to suffer short- and medium-term after Crimean bridge attack – ISW

Kerch bridge Crimea bridge marine drone attack
A section of the Crimea bridge collapsed following strikes by marine drones. Screenshot from video
Russian logistics to suffer short- and medium-term after Crimean bridge attack – ISW

Yesterday’s attack on the strategic Kerch Strait Bridge between Russia and occupied Crimea could hamper Russian military logistics in southern Ukraine, says the latest report by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

The 17 July strike damaged sections of the road bridge, with one span collapsing entirely, according to the ISW assessment. It says “footage of the aftermath shows that one Kerch Strait Bridge road span had collapsed and another span suffered damage but remains intact.”

The report warns that with the bridge weakened, supplies to Russian troops in southern Ukraine now primarily must transit occupied Zaporizhzhia and Kherson oblasts – a “single route that leaves Russian forces vulnerable,” it states.

Complicating matters, Russian authorities have kept the damaged bridge open to civilian traffic and tourists heading to Crimea. The ISW report says “Russian tourists fleeing occupied Crimea likely exacerbated traffic and likely impeded Russian logistics from Crimea to rear areas in Zaporizhzhia and Kherson oblasts.”

It argues the logistics issues will likely worsen existing shortages of inadequate supplies for Russian forces. The ISW assessment points to complaints on social media by Russian commanders that indicated “the 58th Combined Arms Army, and likely other Russian formations deployed in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, suffer from supply shortages.”

The ISW report says further disruptions “are likely to draw further outrage from the Russian ultranationalist community and undermine confidence in the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD).”

Other takeaways from the ISW report:

  • The July 17 attack on the Kerch Strait Bridge will likely have significant and sustained impacts on Russian logistics as traffic from tourism to occupied Crimea jams Russian logistics to southern Ukraine in the midst of the ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensive in the south.
  • Russian and occupation authorities appear to be consumed with mitigating the consequences of the attack rather than leveraging the incident to levy heavy informational attacks with rhetorical inflections.
  • The Russian milblogger response to the Kerch Strait Bridge attack largely criticized Russian authorities for failing to secure the bridge.
  • The Wagner Group continues to prepare to establish a permanent presence in Belarus.
  • Russia continues efforts to reorganize its domestic security apparatus in the wake of the Wagner Group’s armed rebellion.
  • Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations on at least three sectors of the front over the backdrop of increased Russian offensive operations along the Kharkiv-Luhansk Oblast border on July 17.
  • Russian forces conducted active offensive operations along the Kupiansk-Svatove line and have likely made marginal tactical gains in this direction.
  • Russian forces continued limited ground attacks southwest and south of Kreminna, around Bakhmut, and along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line.
  • Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations in the Bakhmut area and advanced near the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia administrative border.
  • Russian forces conducted limited counterattacks in western Donetsk Oblast.
  • Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces continued unsuccessful ground attacks in the Orikhiv area in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
  • Russian opposition outlet Verstka reported that Russian authorities have removed at least eight Russian military commanders without reappointing them to new positions since the start of the war, which is largely consistent with ISW’s previous assessments.
  • Russian occupation authorities continue to artificially increase the number of Russian citizens in occupied Ukraine ahead of the September regional elections.
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