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UK intel: Russian military logistics suffer after Ukraine targets Kerch crossing ferries

Recent Ukrainian missile strikes damaged Russian ferries crossing Kerch Strait, causing major disruptions to military logistics and fuel supply to occupied Crimea.
media two russian kerch strait ferries damaged last night's attack rail ferry conro trader archive rfe/rl cdb426db-6f4a-4165-bb19-b00d326ce806
Russian rail ferry Conro Trader. Archive photo: RFE/RL
UK intel: Russian military logistics suffer after Ukraine targets Kerch crossing ferries

In its intelligence update, the British Defense Ministry says that Ukrainian missile strikes on 29 May on two Russian rail ferries on the Crimean side of the Kerch Strait crossing “caused significant temporary disruption to Russian military logistics operations and potentially, Crimea’s fuel supply.

With Russia’s military logistics heavily dependent on railways, the Kerch Strait bridge and crossings are used to sustain the Russian forces in Crimea and the occupied parts of southern Ukraine. With limited used of the bridge’s railway part after previous Ukrainian attacks, the rail ferries became Russia’s main tool of delivery of military matériel to Crimea. Also, in order to compensate for possible future destruction of the Kerch Bridge, Russia has been constructing a new railway in southern Ukraine.

According to the Ministry, these rail ferries “provided the primary means of rail transportation for Russian fuel and ammunition train loads to Crimea due to stringent security measures on the Kerch Bridge.”

Media: Two Russian Kerch strait ferries damaged in last night’s attack

The UK Defense Ministry wrote:

  • On 29 May 2024 Ukrainian missile strikes damaged two Russian roll-on roll-off (RO-RO) rail ferries on the Crimean side of the Kerch Strait crossing, rendering them non-operational. These rail ferries almost certainly provided the primary means of rail transportation for Russian fuel and ammunition train loads to Crimea due to the stringent security measures employed on the Kerch Bridge. Russia also operates vehicle RO-RO ferries to support the movement of heavy loads across the Strait, which have resumed operations post-strike.
  • The degraded rail crossing capacity almost certainly caused significant temporary disruption to Russian military logistics operations and potentially, Crimea’s fuel supply. Russia will almost certainly be forced to replace the rail ferry service as soon as possible, likely impacting its wider maritime logistics operations, or risk relaxing its procedures by using the rail bridge to transit fuel and explosive stores. The Ukrainian strike on the ferry crossings and a subsequent attack on a nearby fuel depot, highlights again the vulnerability of the Strait to Ukrainian interdiction, despite Russia’s significant investment in security and air defence.

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