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British Defense Ministry: New Russian railway to occupied Ukraine aims to support Russian activity in Mariupol

The 60km stretch took 8 months to build & re-establishes rail access denied by fighting around Donetsk.
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British Defense Ministry: New Russian railway to occupied Ukraine aims to support Russian activity in Mariupol

The British Defense Ministry reported on 24 March that the building of the new railway from Russia to Russia-occupied Ukraine aims to bolster Russian activity in occupied Mariupol.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on 18 March the construction of a new railway line from Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia through Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine to Crimea. According to Putin, “the new line will reach Sevastopol in southern Crimea and provide redundancy for the Kerch bridge.”

Russia started the illegal construction of what it calls the Crimean Bridge shortly after it occupied the Ukrainian peninsula in 2014 to link Crimea to southern Russia across the Kerch Strait. Until spring 2022, the bridge remained Russia’s only land connection to occupied Crimea.

The British ministry said that although Putin said: “the first completed section (of a new railway) restores access to Berdiansk, the pre-existing rail connection used to complete this journey passes through territory vulnerable to interdiction by Ukrainian long-range precision strike systems.”

The nearly 60km stretch between Kolosky and Kamianka, south of Donetsk, is “almost certainly one of the largest infrastructure projects Russia has carried out in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.” It re-establishes the rail connection, which was denied by fighting around Donetsk, and took eight months to build.

According to the British Defense Ministry, “It is likely one of the immediate objectives of the new line will be to support Russian activity in Mariupol.”

The port city, devastated by Russia in 2022, “contains the Azovstal steel works and other heavy industry facilities that, although currently severely damaged, Russia may seek to repair and exploit in the future.”

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