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Media: Satellite images show Russia stopped using Kerch for military logistics in Ukraine

Russian forces no longer using the Crimean bridge earlier targeted by Ukraine to transport military supplies, now relying on overland routes, satellite imagery shows.
Smokescreens Russians used to cover the Kerch bridge in August 2023 during an alleged missile attack on the bridge. Credit: Crimean Telegram channels
Media: Satellite images show Russia stopped using Kerch for military logistics in Ukraine

Satellite images show Russia no longer using the Crimean bridge to supply troops in Ukraine after repeated Ukrainian attacks on the vital link between Russia and the Crimean Peninsula, occupied since 2014, Independent says.

According to an analysis by Ukraine’s private intelligence agency Molfar, Moscow has rerouted its military supplies, switching to using overland routes through occupied eastern Ukrainian regions like Donetsk to transport matériel to its front lines. This shift comes in the wake of successful strikes in 2022 and 2023 by Ukrainian forces targeting the 19 km Kerch Bridge connecting Crimea to mainland Russia.

Russian freight train with fuel tanks was on the Kerch bridge on 29 February 2024. Train length is 820 meters, approximate number of cars is 55. Image: Molfar, via Independent

Molfar’s examination of satellite imagery from Maxar reveals that almost no Russian military freight trains have traversed the Crimean bridge over the past three months. The only exception was a single train carrying around 55 fuel tankers crossing on 29 February.

Movement of a locomotive on the Kerch bridge detected on 10 July 2023, a few weeks before a Ukrainian drone strike. Image: Molfar, via Independent

The analysis notes a stark decline in Russian military traffic on the bridge following a Ukrainian drone attack on 17 July 2023 that damaged sections of the roadway and rail line. Prior to this strike, Russia was operating over 40 weapons-laden trains daily across the strategic bridge, while now traffic is now down to just four passenger trains and a single general goods freight train a day, according to Ukrainian security service head Vasyl Maliuk, Independent says.

Satellite image shows railway rolling stock moving from Crimea to Russia as eight passenger cars are spotted at the Kerch railway station. Image: Molfar, via Independent

After an earlier truck bombing attack in October 2022 that allegedly killed four people, satellite data showed no major train movement in July or August of that year as well.

Fire at the Kerch bridge after a Ukrainian attack in October 2022. Source.

With the Crimean bridge supply line disrupted, Russia has ramped up freight transport via the Taman route in Rostov region instead. Russian forces are also constructing new rail links connecting occupied Melitopol, Berdiansk, and Mariupol to Crimea and Russia’s mainland, likely to facilitate Russia’s expected summer offensive.

Molfar’s CEO Artem Starosiek suggests Ukraine should now focus on targeting these overland resupply routes rather than the non-operational Crimean bridge. He states,

“It is these paths that are currently a more serious threat than the non-working railway path of the Crimean bridge,” he said, according to Independent.

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