Ukrainian general threatens to target high-profile Russian bridge to Crimea
A Ukrainian general has threatened to use long-range western weapons to destroy the newly constructed Kerch bridge linking Russia and occupied Crimea.
Major General Dmytro Marchenko said Ukraine would consider the 227-metre bridge a legitimate military target in the war with Russia.
He told the Krym.Realii website that the US$4-billion bridge was an “umbilical cord” allowing Russian reinforcements to reach southern Ukraine. Marchenko has been commanding the defence of the Mykolaiv region in southern Ukraine.
“Perhaps my information is not enough to predict this,” the general said. “But the fact that this will not end quickly is a fact. But then again: they will give us all the weapons that we need, the counteroffensive will probably end by the end of the summer.”
Russia invaded Crimea from Ukraine in February 2014 before annexing it through a referendum rejected by the United Nations as invalid.
Construction on the bridge was completed in 2018.
Until the Kerch bridge was built, Russia had to rely on sea and air travel to supply Crimea.
The general said if new Nato weapons were delivered, the bridge would “be our number one target”.
“We have to tear this umbilical cord to cut off reinforcements. As soon as it’s done, [Russia] will panic,” he was quoted saying.
Some senior Nato figures fear Ukraine could use long-range artillery against targets inside Russia and increase the scale of the conflict.
The US this month announced a shipment of multiple-launch rocket weapons while adding that the Ukrainian authorities had pledged not to use the weapons against targets within Russian territory.
Russia uses the bridge over the Strait of Kerch to bring troops and weaponry to Crimea, which was a staging ground for the invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the bridge was safe to use and guarded by “preventive measures”.
Property prices on the peninsula have reportedly fallen since the start of the war with Ukraine.
The road and rail Kerch bridge opened to cars in May 2018 after Putin drove a truck at the inauguration ceremony.
Putin’s close ally, construction billionaire Arkady Rotenberg, won the contract to build the bridge. He faces international sanctions and sold off the company in November 2019. The Kerch structure is the longest European bridge, surpassing the Vasco de Gama bridge in Portugal.
The Kerch bridge. Picture credit: PXFuel